A Fine and Rare Tack-Decorated Western Sioux Tobacco Cutting Board

19th century, perhaps manufactured from a recycled pine board from a packing crate, detailed with 35 brass tacks in corners and along sides; a buffalo, elk, turtle, and mountain sheep are carved in low relief at each corner; the center with a depressed circular cutting surface; the board with an old red wash, and exhibiting much use. Length 8.25 in. x width 8.5 in.

The four figures carved in relief at the corners of this board are often seen on pipe stems traditionally associated with the Standing Rock and Pine Ridge Agencies. Ewers (1986:112-113) describes several curated by the American Museum of Natural History with collection history dating between 1904-1916  He notes that the four figures are often seen together after the demise of the buffalo, with the turtle symbolizing a figure of "caution and steadfastness", the others as "larger land animals that provided food to the Indians" (Ibid). Judging by the surface wear to the board, the apparent long use of the cutting surface, and the light weight of the board itself, we suggest an earlier date for this object. 

An exceptional example of a scarce Plains object.

1986  Ewers, John.  Plains Indian Sculpture. Smithsonian Press: Washington, D.C.


Remnants of tack holes on reverse of board.

Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


Have a Similar Item?

Consign With Us

Condition requests can be obtained via email (danica@cowans.com) or by telephone (513-871-1670). Please note, questions submitted the day of an auction may not be answered.

Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Cowan's Auctions shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.