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Unknown maker, Tlingit
Likely collected by John Brady
Donated by Marie Harriman in 1912
American Museum of Natural History 16.1/1167B

This type of silver bracelet was originally made from pounded European and North American coins acquired in the fur trade. As the value of coinage shifted from its potential use as raw material to a means of commodity transaction, mass production of bracelets came to rely on trade silver. This example came to the AMNH in a bequest composed mainly of souvenir art, and such bracelets were a very popular item with female tourists to the Northwest Coast by the late 1900s. At the same time, they were designed with specific crest images for use by noble families and were distributed in large quantities as potlatch gifts. The double life of these bracelets is amplified by the decoration of this particular one: the raven or mountain eagle design could have appealed to tourists from the United States who may have seen the bird—with its profiled head and quite naturalistic wings—as an American eagle rather than a Native crest. Such imagery itself was derived from American coins, while the flowing scrollwork near the clasp was likely based on the decorated prows of trading ships.

Click here for a discussion about this object (Marcia Crosby)

Click here for a discussion about this object (Marianne Nicolson)

Tags for Interactive Tag Cloud: hybridity, indigenization, repurposing, ship imagery, souvenir