Gorget with Owl Design, c. late 1700s

Silver gorget with owl design in the collections of The Autry Museum of the American West, Los Angeles, California.

Museum Description: silver gorget (adornment). Round and concave. At center is engraving of an owl. Above two knobs with brackets on back. Edge of gorget has ridged border. Maker's mark "RC" below owl. A trade item found at Eel River, Miami site, Illinois.

Physical Description: silver; 4.625 in, 0.625 in.dia.

NDT Note: The gorget has two knobs, one of which has a piece of old leather which is hard, a little over an inch long, and tied onto the knob. Silver tarnished. Item measures: diam. 4 5/8 in., depth 5/8 in. Item not weighed. Condition of object: 3.5 as there is a 1 inch tear at top which might get worse; the museum may stabilize the item by gluing some Japanese tissue paper across the break. Number written on convex side of gorget; acrylic resin (conservation approved) applied to silver and number written on resin.

Provenance: Purchased from Mr. Compton LaBauve, Jr. Date collected unknown; trade item found at Eel River, Illinois; museum accession in 1990, prior to that (Dec. 1, 1989-Jan. 1, 1990), on temporary loan to museum along with three other items.

The Autry's Collections Online reads: Object Name: pendant; Maker: Robert Cruickshank; Culture: Euro-American; Date: late 1700s; Materials: Silver, engraved; Dimensions: 4 5/8in. x 5/8in. (11.7cm x 1.6cm); Credit Line: Museum purchase; Object ID: 89.217.1; Institution: Autry Museum of the American West; Category: Art and Artifacts; Remarks: Pendant, made by Robert Cruickshank, silver decorated with engraving of an owl, found at Miami Indian site in Illinois, late 1700s. Stamped below owl: RC. Before contact, many North American Indians made ornaments from polished conch shells. Wearers would thread a ribbon or leather thong through the shell and hang it around the neck. Shells have a natural luminosity, and this was thought to represent a spiritual power from worlds under water. During the fur trade, silver, with its similar reflective surfaces, became a popular substitute for natural shell. Subject: Fur Trade (Encounters exhibition), birds, Indian trade; Pictured: owls.