For Native Consumers
Just as Native Americans made souvenirs and everyday functional goods for tourists, non-Native craftsmen also made items that Native peoples wanted to buy. Objects that were wrought, stamped, or molded from silver were popular among Native customers for both formal, diplomatic gifts and informal tokens of appreciation.
Originally designed as a gorget (a metal medallion to cover the throat), this piece was reworked by a later owner into a brooch. Adding a hole helped hinge the new (now missing) cross pin. Women wore multiple brooches like this pinned to their clothes, and they were popular trade goods throughout the 1800s. This one has what may be a Native American name engraved onto the reverse.
Unknown non-Native artist
Maine or Montreal; early 1800s
1956.54 Museum purchase
The holes drilled in the ends of this armband would have held a cord or leather thong to tie it in place on a Native American man’s wrist or arm. This band bears the engraved Great Seal of the United States. Philadelphia silversmith Joseph Richardson made plain versions for sale to European fur traders and diplomats who used them as gifts and trade goods with Native Americans. An engraved band like this one was most likely a special present for an important Native leader or ally.
Wristband or armband
Joseph Richardson Jr.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; about 1795
1959.2308 Gift of Henry Francis du Pont
In the 1700s, Native Americans loved to buy small silver pendants like this one. They wore them as necklaces, sewed them to clothes, and suspended them like fringe from elaborate crowns. European silversmith Daniel East made these little beavers to look like pendants Native Americans already owned that were made from catlinite (soft red pipestone). Some scholars think that the beaver shape may have been popular because beaver pelts were used as currency in colonial America. Native Americans and colonists living far from settled areas frequently priced goods in numbers of pelts rather than in British pounds.