Handmade lacquered leather lidded box with crosshatch embroidered design.
leather, cured hide, lacquer, natural dyes
ca. 1800, North America
Sometimes an object comes into the collection and we don’t have a lot of information on its provenance (history), maker, or even age.
This unusual lacquered leather box was found in the collection with no information attached to it, so we utilized our sleuthing skills to try to glean some information directly from the artifact. We know the basic materials that were used to make the object – some type of animal skin and, from viewing other leather boxes, we know that the sheen on the exterior is likely due to a lacquer being used to ensure durability and, perhaps, to make it waterproof – there is also still a slight smell indicating a use of lacquer (funny that we do use all of our senses to identify and take care of the museum’s artifacts).
The use of lacquers as well as the patina and style, helps us to drill down closer on the age of the artifact. We know that boxes like these were more popular in the 17th, 18th, and very early 19th centuries than in the later 19th or 20th centuries. We also know that the patina of leather and hide can indicate age, so conservatively we can date this to the early 19th century period, it might be earlier. We also think that it was likely made in North America due to some of the stylistic details and clean and simple design, which indicates post-Revolutionary but pre-1830s Victorian. And there you have, to the best of our knowledge, we have identified this unusual item in our collection.
If anyone has more complete information about this artifact, we would love to hear from you! Please feel free to comment below or send us an email.
Twined bichrome lidded basket with deer iconography and banded geometric design, possibly by Ada Markishtum (b. 1888 – d. 1965), Makah
Cedar bark, dyed bear grass
ca. 1920, North America
Interestingly, this basket was found in the collection with a tag attached identifying it as as King George Island Tribe. The King George Islands are actually in Antarctica, so we knew that could not be the correct identification.
With some research and much sleuthing, we concluded two things: one that this had been possibly misidentified at the time of purchase and there was something more to the name “King George Is.” – more research was needed. For those of you who are familiar with Seattle and curious about the tag, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop was founded in 1899 as as The Old Curiosity Shop and Indian Curio by Joseph E. “Daddy” Standley , an Ohio-born curio collector who came to Seattle in the late 1890s during the Yukon gold rush and is still operating on the waterfront.
So a little more research took us to old maps of the Puget Sound, where we discovered that Nootka Sound was once known as King George Sound, the body of water that separates Vancouver Island and Nootka Island. That certainly seemed more plausible than a remote group of Antarctic islands, so we knew we were getting closer. Yet, stylistically this basket did not seem to be from the Nuu-chah-nulth people, who lived on Nootka Sound but they did share a language, Wakashan, with another group – the Makah. Once we had that information, we came across a few of the extant baskets made by Ada Markishtum and we realized that this basket could be a match.
From Our Executive Director:
Just to update our supporters: unfortunately, we have no new news regarding our negotiations to purchase the Longfellow School.
Due to an emergency, the discussion regarding our letter of interest was bumped from the school district’s agenda last meeting. We have been rescheduled for May 23rd, so we should know something after that. Please continue to show support for us and encourage the School Board to consider our offer by email, snail mail, and phone calls.
Our offer will benefit not only the Museum but the community and the School District by creating a permanent home for the museum, allowing the District to earn $2,000,000.00 and save another $1,000,000.00 for the tear down, promote good community relationships, save an historical building, and provide a beautiful museum for children, local citizens, and visitors to Everett.
Benefits for all!
I’ll keep you posted.
Executive Director, Everett Museum of History
Twined bichrome cylindrical lidded basket, also called a “Sally Bag,” Columbia Plateau, possibly Wasco-Wishram
Hemp, corn husk, natural dye, doe skin, cotton thread
ca. 1885, North America
“Sally Bags” are flexible cylindrical baskets common in Columbia Plateau weaving. These baskets had a loop which could attach to a belt to be worn and the rims are typically finished with leather or skin. They were used to carry food stores and personal items. “Sally bags” were created by the Wasco and Wishram people, as well as the Umatilla and Cayuse. The Wasco and Wishram people refer to these bags as wapaas and aqw’alkt respectively. While there are many stories as to why this type of basket garnered its unusual name, the earliest confirmed record references Sally Wahkiacus (b. 1825 – d. ?), who was a well-known weaver of this style of basket on the Upper Kilickatat River (Schlick, Mary Dodds, Columbia River Basketry: Gift of the Ancestors, Gift of the Earth, 1994).
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Everett Museum of History
Interwoven Dialogues: The Architecture of Basketry
Photographs by Susan Gans of Artifacts from the Everett Museum of History Collection
June 15th – August 27th, 2017
2921 Hoyt Avenue Everett, WA 98201
Baskets are likely the earliest container form humans created. From our earliest archeological records we know that baskets have been utilized in human society for over 20,000 years, predating most forms of pottery and woven cloth, as evidenced in stone carvings from the Upper Paleolithic to Mesolithic periods. In this exhibition, most of the baskets date from the early nineteenth century through the twentieth century.
Through the medium of photography, Susan Gans has documented the changing city in the architecture all around us. Capturing both the ghost of what was past and what is present, her photography seeks to show us what we may be losing when we gentrify and constantly change the spaces we live in. In her work with the Everett Museum of History’s basket collection, she strives to introduce the same concepts while maintaining and showcasing the architectural integrity of the basket structures themselves. Basket forms are inherently architectural in nature, constructed with the same rigorous planning and implementation of any other permanent structure. Seeing the baskets through the medium of photography changes the dialogue that we, as the viewer, anticipate when we see these, sometimes, humble objects.
Please Join Us for the Opening Reception of Interwoven Dialogues June 15th from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm at the Schack.
Walpi Polychrome pottery bowl, unsigned, Hopi
clay, slip, natural paints
ca. 1920, North America
Rich in iron, Hopi clay pottery can fire from cream to light red in color. Early nineteenth century pottery used a white slip casting underneath the painted decoration, which is called “Polacca Ware” and was in popular use through the 19th century when potter Nampeyo (b. 1860 – d. 1942) abandoned the use of the white slip, inspired by the Zuni, and painted her decorations directly on the polished clay. She also utilized the local archeological record of indigenous designs from the ruins of the Hopi village Sikyatki (excavated by J. Walter Fewkes in 1896) to inspire her creations. This style became known as Sikvatki (“yellow earth”) Revival. Despite the popularity of Nampeyo’s style, white slip also remained in use as evidenced in this pristine example from the 1920s, possibly a product of the Navasie/Naha families.
Join (up) with us!
Annual Meeting May 7, 2017, 2-4 p.m.
Hibulb Cultural Center
6410 23rd Ave NE
Tulalip, WA 98271
Join us for an interesting program on “mapping your space” by Fred Cruger, the Executive Director of the Granite Falls Museum, AND an update on the Everett Museum/Longfellow project. There will be a short business meeting to elect officers of the Board of Trustees. This is a free event.
You probably already know something about the Longfellow project. We are anxious to move forward but we are going to need some specific assistance from you. *** Your membership is critical to convincing funders that we have the grass roots support of a community interested in establishing a museum. Membership starts at $25 a year but we invite you to consider becoming a Lifetime Member at $1,000, thus ensuring an adequate membership base.
We look forward to seeing you Sunday afternoon!