Wonderful Plains Indian Hide Sewing Case

Possibly Sioux / Lakota Origins?

This sewing case, circa 1880, measures approximately 10 x 6 inches, spreading to a thickness of about 1″ with its contents.  I was told that the hide is bear, but I rather think it’s cowhide, black and worn smooth and repaired on both front and back with old stitching.   The side seams are beaded with blue, black and white glass beads.

This bead work along the sides turns in for about 1″ on both the top and bottom. The bottom corners have metal cones filled with horse hair.  One corner has two cones, the other has one.   The top flap is a repeating stepped pattern of blue, red with white hearts and black glass beads.  The case seams are sewn with heavy sinew and the beads are threaded with a much finer sinew.

Case Contents

The below photo shows the case open revealing the bundle of sinew.

This case has had the following contents in it for a very long time.

  1. two bundles of raw sinew
  2. a piece of red calico cloth
  3. small piece of abalone shell
  4. a round metal can that once contained polish, the contents are now pebble like pellets of dirt.
  5. small, round, pearl like globe topped with an art nouveau design
  6. metal token with hole punched through.  One side says “Christ Ashla 1001 Wash. Ave”, the other side is written “2 1/2”
  7. An early metal (silver or German silver?) button, plain on the front side but highly detailed on the clasp side, showing hand etching into the metal at an unusually fine level of detail.  This button must have been cut out of something larger.

Below is a photo of the contents, followed by a detail of the the token and the button.


This an unusual and rare sewing case.  I could find only one other like it online.  This case is being offered at $1200.  The contents will stay with the case.  Please call, email or drop by if you have any interest.

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