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Tweezers!

I encountered a large number of objects in my work with the William C. Sturtevant Collection today. An important sub-set of the objects that I looked at today was a collection of “German silver” (a.k.a. nickel silver) jewelry made by a diversity of native silversmiths from central and western Oklahoma. These works were made during the 1960s and sold a trading posts in western Oklahoma.

Alongside earrings, finger rings, bracelets, broaches, buttons, stickpins, scarf slides and other items worn for adornment are nice two examples of an interesting–but not-widely known form–men’s tweezers, used for plucking hair from one’s beard. These stamped German silver tweezers from Western Oklahoma are beautiful. Older native men that I have known in Eastern Oklahoma would use tight commercial springs to achieve the same goal.

Much more can and needs to be said about the objects, the artists, the materials, the contexts of use, the contexts of sale, collecting, etc., but here is a glimpse at these two tweezers. (I still have a lot of data organizing to do before tomorrow.)

The first example (below) was made by the Kiowa smith Murray Tonepahote. It is WCS 599 in the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. (All photographs by me.)

Tweezers by Murray Tonepahote (Kiowa)

Tweezers by Murray Tonepahote (Kiowa)

A side view will help make sense of the object for those who have not seen such tweezers previously.

Side View of Tweezers by Murray Tonepahote (Kiowa)

Side View of Tweezers by Murray Tonepahote (Kiowa)

(BTW: Murray Tonepahote’s work as an artist is a subject taken up in the scholarship of his granddaughter, Dr. Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina.)

A second example (below) of such tweezers in the Sturtevant collection is by a Cheyenne (?) artist named Bushyhead. I will see fuller documentation for these objects tomorrow and can learn then which member of the Bushyhead family was the maker of this object–my guess is that it was made by Henry Bushyhead. This object is WCS T343, PGS-1.

Bushyhead Tweezer

Tweezers by Bushhead

As noted above (for contingent reasons) I have not yet seen the documentation that accompanies these objects. Needless to say there is much more to say about these two objects. If I have made any errors here, I will correct them a.s.a.p.

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