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Exceptional Current and Vintage Native American Arts

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Cheroot/Cigar Case: Moose Hair Embroidery


An 1854 moose hair embroidered cheroot/cigar case, red woolen stroud cloth over birch bark with "Niagra Falls 1854" written on the birchbark inner case - see photo. Photos show both sides of this case, the top of the case, close ups of the embroidery, and the place and date on the inner case.

Moose hair embroidery is very rare... increasingly difficult to find. A recent web search turned up only 1 other moose hair embroidered item for sale via the internet (excluding those I am offering). Moose hair embroidery, usually done on birch bark but occasionally on woolen cloth, began about 1700. Native American girls learned embroidery work in Quebec convent schools run by French Ursuline nuns. French embroidery using silk thread, woven cloth, European needles and scissors was taught in these convent schools. When cloth and silk thread became scarce the nuns and their Indian pupils turned to materials available - birch bark and moose hair.

This is 5.5" long, 3" across and .75" deep. It is on a birch bark case that is covered with red trade cloth also known as stroud cloth. All the embroidery here is done with moose hair. Side A has the large white flower on the bottom, side B has the blue flower on the bottom. There is moose hair tufting on the large white flower on the bottom site A of the case and moose hair tufting on the blue flowers on side B, 1 large blue flower on the bottom, 2 medium size blue flowers on the top of side B. The complicated and varied design using several embroidery techniques is as finely done as any moose hair embroidery piece I have seen. - Outstanding workmanship and artistry on this piece!

There is some missing hair in the white moose hair bordering all the sides. Side A has some damage to the flowers on the top part of the case. All damage shows in photos ... and for the age and the type of item this is less than average damage and is in good condition - the case itself is not damaged, the red woolen stroud cloth is not damaged

Moose hair embroidery is delicate, easily damaged as is birch bark. Not many pieces survive today and the ones that do generally have heavy damage. Even pieces I have viewed in several museum collections are not in excellent condition.

Cheroot/cigar case Moose Hair Embroidered - Side A
Cheroot/cigar case Moose Hair Embroidered - Side B
Cheroot/cigar case Moose Hair Embroidered - Open to show date
Cheroot/cigar case Moose Hair Embroidered - Close up Side A lower
Weight: 12 oz