Souvenirs of the Fur Trade: Northwest Coast Indian Art and Artifacts Collected by American Mariners, 1788-1844

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American mariners made more than 175 voyages to the Northwest Coast during the half-century after the ships Columbia and Washington pioneered the route from Boston in 1787. Although obtaining sea otter pelts for the China trade was the original purpose of the voyages, the art and culture of Northwest Coast Indians so intrigued and fascinated American sailors that the collecting of ethnographic artifacts became an important secondary trade. The Indians traded masks, hats, paddles, pipes, fishhooks, spoons, clothing, and canoe models from their canoes to the decks of Yankee vessels.

In this act of exchange, the artifacts moved from one world to another--first to shipboard, and later to the "cabinets of curiosities" of learned societies in Massachusetts, where many of them found homes. The objects were the first examples of Northwest Coast Indian material culture to enter American museums, and they influenced perceptions of Northwest Coast Indian people and their complex cultures.

By carefully researching the records of ten institutions and the shipboard journals of more than a dozen mariners, Mary Malloy has brought details about these early collections together for the first time. From utilitarian objects to artistic masterpieces, these souvenirs tell a story of commerce and cultural exchange that reached across the continent during the period when Americans were first beginning to look westward.

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Editorial Reviews

American mariners made some 175 voyages to the Northwest Coast after the route was pioneered in 1787. Although obtaining sea otter pelts was the original purpose of the voyages, the collection of ethnographic artifacts became an important secondary trade. These masks, hats, pipes, and other artifacts were the first examples of Northwest Coast Indian material culture to enter American museums. Malloy (maritime studies, Sea Education Association) draws on museum records and the shipboard journals of mariners to reveal details about these early collections. The collections of 12 institutions are showcased in color and b&w photos. Distributed by the U. of Pennsylvania Museum. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780873658331
  • Publisher: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Series: Peabody Museum Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 8.54 (w) x 10.94 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Malloy teaches Maritime Studies at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. She is the author of "Boston Men" on the Northwest Coast: The American Maritime Fur Trade, 1788-1844, and "A Most Remarkable Enterprise": Lectures on the Northwest Coast Trade and Northwest Coast Indian Life by Captain William Sturgis.
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Table of Contents




Yankee Observations of Northwest Coast Indian Life

Souvenirs and Scientific Collecting


Salem East India Marine Society, 1799

Massachusetts Historical Society, 1791

Dartmouth College Museum, 1772

Deerfield Academy Museum, 1797

Boston Athenaeum, 1807

American Antiquarian Society, 1812

Boston Marine Society, 1742

Boston Museum, 1841

Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, 1867

Newburyport Marine Society, 1772

Historical Society of Old Newbury, 1877

Newburyport Maritime Society, 1974



Illustration Credits


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