Trade Silver Crosses

Trade Silver Crosses

These were objects of adornment traded for fur, which acted as displays of Status, Wealth, and Position

Hudson’s Bay Silver Trade Cross Sold by Allard Auctions on March 8, 2008 for $650.00

I am not positioning myself as an expert on Trade Silver here, I only want to inform my readers and let them see how extraordinary these wonderful artifacts are.

I am surprised that there is so little written about the Trade Silver that was such an integral part of The Fur Trade. OK, maybe trade silver was not exactly integral to the fur trade, and perhaps it was not as important as the many other utilitarian objects that North American Natives traded fur for…but these artifacts are definitely what I wish I could find more of.

The Hudson’s Bay Company Was Chief Among Fur Traders

Here is a Trade Silver Cross by Robert Cruikshank

Trade Silver Cross Sold by William Bunch Auctions on February 27, 2007 for $600.00

Into the cold nether regions of the Northeast came bearded men searching for fur, and I understand that they brought with them all the things of Europe – tools, guns and all manner of their rudimentary technologies, but they also brought trinkets and shiny things to trade. Some of them must have worn crosses and their company leaders often wore gorgets, and here’s where some of my speculation comes in – that it was these articles of adornment that captured the fascination of the their counterpart native traders. Fur Traders realizing this, started to have quantities of silver fashioned into crosses, buttons, gorgets and earrings.

What started as trinkets became a more refined Trade Silver

Fur Traders Had These Items Made Specifically To Trade…

Double Bar Lorraine Trade Cross Sold By Northeast Auctions for $4,707.00

The above example is by Robert Cruikshank but I also want to give you links to two other silversmiths who made Trade Silver – Michael Arnoldi and Ignace-Fran├žois Delezenne I wish I could find examples of their work in trade silver, but as of the time of this writing I have been unable to find any.

When I think of the countless pelts trapped in the Northeast, I find it surprising that there is not more written about the silver traded by settlers to acquire them from Native North Americans.

Fine Canadian Silver Trade Cross

Offered for bid by Mid-West Auctions, Inc. on June 19th 2010

Mid-West Auction Inc.

This is the nicest example I have found of a Silver Trade Cross, and it is being offered for bid by the Mid-West Auction Company on June 19, 2010. I think that it will exceed it’s pre-sale auction estimate of $800.00 to $1,200.00.

I am hoping that someone will leave a comment about this cross, because I have a question aboiut it. I am curious if the dangles are original, or if they may have been added later…?

…Native Americans Wore Trade Crosses…

Oglala Sioux “Young Man Afraid of His Horses” Wearing Trade Cross. Sold by Cowan’s Auctions, Inc. for $2,875.00

The trade cross that Oglala Sioux “Young Man Afraid of His Horses” is wearing is a more accurate representation of how these Trade Silver Crosses came to be fashioned. Notice that each of the arms of this cross are equal. Native Americans liked balance and they also wanted a cross to act as a symbol for something that they could better understand, and in the case of a cross, they wanted crosses to represent the way that they placed logs together to build fires.

Chief Gall Wearing a Cross Seated With his Family

Sold by Cowan’s Auctions, Inc. for $546.00 on September 15, 2007

I am not really sure if the cross that Chief Gall is wearing is a Silver Trade Cross or not. I offer it up only because there are so few pictures available for us to see how these crosses might have looked when worn by Native North Americans.

Here is some additional reading – The Canadian Encyclopedia “Indian Trade Silver” Barking Rock Farm Short Article About Trade Silver :

Canadian Trade Silver Cross

Canadian Trade Silver Cross Sold By Christie’s for $1,434.00

Good Luck Out There!

Martin Codina CEO of Fine Estate Liquidation – A San Francisco Bay Are Estate Sales Company

Some of this information was gathered from research conducted using Prices 4 Antiques.Com. Here’s a discount code for them: Prices4Antiques.Com Discount Code.

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5 thoughts on “Trade Silver Crosses

  1. Actually, there are several very good publications about trade silver. The first, which I highly recommend, is “Silver in the Fur Trade” by Martha Wilson Hamilton. This book is probably still in print, and readily available.

    Other books on the topic, which may (or may not) be in print, but are still worth searching for are:
    “North American Indian Trade Silver” by W.H. Carter
    “Iroquois Silver Brooches in the Rochester Museum” by Elizabeth H. Van Horn
    “The Covenant Chain – Indian Ceremonial & Trade Silver” published by National Museums of Canada

    There are undoubtedly more of which I am unaware. A good source of info about this fascinating subject is available through various Native American Museums, such as the Seneca National Iroquois National Museum in Salamanca, NY.

  2. Colleen,

    Thanks for letting us know about these resources…

    All The Best To You


  3. ED –

    I think your best bet to research your mark is to first scan through all the past auction records for Trade Silver you can find, and second to look into the excellent reference material suggested by Colleen at Barking Rock Farms.

    Good Luck


  4. We have a Hudson Bay Lorraine trade cross, w/ Robert Cruikshank’s touch mark, on a 27″ strand of “skunk” or “eye” trade beads. Would like to learn more about it. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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