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Title: Hunting Indians in a Taxi-Cab

Author: Kate Sanborn

Release date: May 23, 2021 [eBook #65423]

Language: English

Credits: E-text prepared by MFR, Barry Abrahamsen, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team ( from page images generously made available by Internet Archive (



E-text prepared by MFR, Barry Abrahamsen,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive


Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive. See








Author of
“Adopting an Abandoned Farm,”
etc., etc.

Copyright 1911, by Richard G. Badger
All rights reserved
The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A.

Yes sir, you do well to purchase one of these figures, for sir, the Indians on the American Continent is fastly disappearing, both in flesh and wood.”


Tacomus Frontispiece
My nameless, footless Squaw 15
A young and pretty mother 21
A Highland Chieftain 21
A Brave Gazing 21
On the Watch 21
The Goddess of Liberty and three other attractive Ladies 25
Squaw with Papoose and other charmers 29
Saint Tammany of the Delaware Tribe 33
“We are tending strictly to business” 33
A Representative of the National Game 39
Jockey with cigar box 39
Hunter 39
Policeman 39
Sothern as “Dundreary”—the others you may name as you please 43
Punch with Impressive Nose 47
Another Punch, less fortunate 47
Punchinello and Nondescript 47
Puck 47
Jim Crow, made 87 years ago 51
Please name him? 51
Four of a Kind 55
Sagamore, Sachem or Pow-wow 59
All High Rollers 63
Place aux Dames 65
A Poseur 75
Lady Enjoying the Weed 75
A Jolly Party 75
“And Last of All an Admiral Came” 75




TO make my title complete, it should read “Hunting Indians in a Taxi-cab with a Camera.”

Nature lovers long since found out that the camera was the best weapon to take into the woods, and mighty hunters are now depicted as using the auto to carry them to the wild and to bring back their trophies.

It was reserved for one of my friends to follow the trail to the city of New York, as his happy hunting ground and to hire a taxi-cab there for the express purpose of hunting a desirable Tobacco Sign Indian. After two days of vain search, he came across a prize.

The Indian stood, a splendid specimen, in Bleecker street, in front of a combination barber and tobacco store; he was nine feet, seven inches tall and was standing on a two-foot pedestal, posing as a Herald of Choice Tobacco; an ignominious position for such a superb creature.

He was purchased, after a deal of haggling over the price, for he was minus a nose and was at that time suffering from a bad weather crack extending diagonally across his stomach, well up into his chest.

An old man on the same street, who was engaged to box and crate the Indian, was deeply interested in him and also in the march of Time and the disappearance of many of our traditions and relics in this comparatively new country, and said to my 14friend, “You do well to purchase one of these figures, for, sir, the Indians on the American continent is fastly disappearing, both in flesh and wood.”

He was next sent to a cabinet maker to receive surgical treatment—his rather serious wounds filled up and a new hawk-like nose grafted on in a clever manner.

The proud owner writes, “I then turned him over to the Sign-painter, to have his leather leggings, his warlike feathers, and a few other accessories cleaned up and retouched.

“I got into some very interesting discussions with the Sign-painter on High Art, what Art meant, and various kindred topics, while my Indian was being rejuvenated. I wish I could remember some of these conversations with the local Knight of the Brush, but we certainly discussed some of the loftiest principles in his line of paint and color.”

“Tacomus” was then sent to one of the largest and most attractive country seats in Massachusetts, where he has found a fitting home and now stands on a small knoll, his earnest face turned towards forest, hills, and streams; a noble addition to the many charms of a far famed and beautiful estate.

In his left hand Tacomus grasps a long barrelled gun, originally a flint lock, a real gun which had seen service and which he had when discovered.

Many go to gaze at him, admire, and express themselves about this new comer. One child looked way up and exclaimed, “His head is in the skies!” then timidly touched his toes and ran away.

Tacomus bears the name of an old Indian Chief, who with his sons, first sold the land which is now the town of Dudley, to Governor Winthrop’s representatives, in old Colonial Days.


My Nameless, Footless Squaw

The proud possessor of this impressive Brave says, “I felt that I had secured a great prize and an 17unusually handsome Indian. I also fondly thought I was the first to discover the value of our old tobacco signs for lawn decoration; but found later that a woman had seized the idea first, and about fifteen years before. Visiting her ‘Breezy Meadows,’ I noticed that she had placed two old wooden Indians near a veritable wigwam or tepee on her ‘Adopted Farm!’ So to her I take off my hat and courteously bow.”

This complimentary allusion is intended for me, but I make no claim to this honor; it is difficult and risky to try to prove oneself the first in any line of discovery and no doubt there are scores of others who have rescued these statues from oblivion, by giving them a place of refuge.

It was the enthusiasm of this friend which suggested to me the idea of collecting the best surviving specimens of the Tobacco Sign Indian and I soon found that I must take a hint from the modern nature-lover, and do most of my hunting with the aid of the camera.



MY first wish for an Indian was to add to the effect of my wigwam. I’ve always been rather partial to the Indian race because there is a tradition (which cannot be verified) that my great grandmother, Abigail Eastman Webster, had a slight infusion of Indian blood. She was a noble looking woman, I have been told, with rather a dark skin and large black eyes. Her son, Daniel Webster, possibly owed to her his swarthy complexion and wonderful eyes, like “Lanterns on a dark night,” as the Websters were mostly of a florid complexion, and addicted to red hair.

I feared my dear old Indian (my first purchase) might look too much like an advertisement as he carried a bunch of cigars in his right hand, so this was removed and replaced by a tomahawk.

Next I suspected my unnamed brave might feel lonely; any way he looked so, as he was from the busy Bowery of New York, so I begged friends to aid me in providing him with an attractive spouse.

Many hunted but in vain; at last there was a squaw reported from Leicester, Mass., but alas! she had lost both feet. With the usual pedal appendages she would have cost $35.00, “but seeing as how she was crippled, she might go for $15.00.”

I bought her and she looks all right with her stumps of ankles set deep in the ground and heavy stones around them to keep her firmly planted. The couple seem very real and human to me and I am often startled in the twilight by coming on the pair without thinking that they are always there. I 20intend to put a Cupid in the bushes near by or behind a sassafras tree, to make it a little more exciting. I regret not giving them any names but may do so, if I can decide on something appropriate. I have a splendid portrait of Tecumseh, but that name does not seem right.

And what a long list there is; I will only give a few, as Massasoit, Squanto, Black Hawk, Pontiac, Red Jacket, Leather Stocking, Quizquiz, Katsa, Red Cloud, Many Horns, Spotted Wolf, Yeh-toot-sah, Yok-ki-e-to, and finally the name I like best, “Samoset,” that good Indian who was the first to welcome the Puritans in 1621, saying “Welcome Englishmen, Welcome Englishmen!” He told the Pilgrims to possess the land, as those to whom it had belonged were swept away by a pestilence. So Samoset, it shall be and the woman? No “set” to her for her knees have no bend to them, “Squaw-without-feet” is true and sounds like some of their queer names.


A Young and Pretty Mother
A Brave Gazing
A Highland Chieftain
On the Watch

I own that I am a bit superstitious about Indians and fancy I am liked and protected by them, after several unusual experiences which I take this opportunity to refer to the Society for Psychical Research. In California, years ago, just after I had put up my wigwam at home, I was barking as for the last twenty years with a chronic bronchial irritation and was urged to visit a remarkable healer who had “suddenly been controlled by the spirit of a cultivated woman, a medical missionary, who had been most successful in India but who had died after a few years of brilliant practice.” Making an engagement two weeks in advance, which was necessary, owing to the great rush to be cured, I took a massage treatment and greatly enjoyed the talk of the returned missionary, which was all at once broken up by her place in the rubber’s mind being usurped by a 23powerful American Indian who, through the medium, kept up a vigorous yet not rough rubbing, slapping and putting hot hands all about my throat; talking too as he worked, so enthusiastically. I think he was a pretty knowing individual for this is what he said. “Ugh! Ugh! Wah! Wah! This Squaw, she talkem heapum, she now quite bad off, but Ugh Wah! we patch her up! Will make her pokagee! Yes, Pokagee!” Then he left as quickly as he came and I noticed that poor Mrs. Seldon was breathing hard and was in a profuse perspiration. When she opened her eyes, she sighed and inquired in her own quiet, gentle way, “Have you had a good rub?” That evening, I went to a Reception for some of the Professors of Stanford University with the promise of being “Pokagee” still in my head and as one of the gentlemen was a teacher of the Indian languages and dialects, I ventured in a timid, hesitating manner to inquire “May I ask if there is such a word as Pokagee in any Indian dialect?”

And the learned man replied at once, “Certainly.”

“Please tell me what it means.”

“It is used to express cured, or in perfect health.”

“O, thank you,” I said, “and just one more question—what tribe has that word?”

“The Pottawatamie.”

And strange to relate my Astral Masseur had belonged to that particular tribe. I forgot to say that he spoke of his pleasure over the Tepee I had built on my grounds and said the Indians long ago loved to walk and hunt in my woods. And he added, “They like to go to Tepee now; seems like their own place.”

Again a friend took me to one of the best known and most valued medical women in New York for a shampoo and a treatment of my face which certainly 24did need to be steamed and electrified. Imagine the general astonishment when another Indian spirit kindly “controlled” the masseuse, (something which she affirmed had never happened before) and he wished to encourage me about my heart as several doctors still in the flesh had been criminally or at least brutally frank about its condition and I was naturally alarmed. And he said “No need worry about heart; you no got bad heart, only what I call nervous heart. You got scared but you stay out doors and let books alone. When you go home go to the Tepee and stand by it, and some of us will go walk with you. We are often there.”

Whatever that was, it did me much more good than the physicians, who frightened me into an abnormal and utterly useless despondency, but whose charges were so high as to increase my temperature and heart action. So me for the Medicine Man of Mystery—with thanks. Excuse this personal digression.


Goddess of Liberty and three other Attractive Ladies



LIKE his prototype, the stalwart Red man, who once regarded this beautiful, broad land as his own, the Tobacco Sign Indian is now rapidly disappearing from all city streets by order of officials because the figures encumber places of business.

He has a distinct genealogy for it is believed that the wooden statue came first into existence in England as a Tobacco sign because Sir Walter Raleigh, who carried the plant back from his trip to America, told of the Indian’s Pipe of Peace and the joys of smoking, besides enjoying it himself. Naturally the Brave himself should be used to advocate its use.

So, it became the symbol of cigar stores both in England and other countries, as the striped pole belongs to the Barber, who in old times used to bleed his patrons as well as shave them, and the frisky Goat called attention to “Bock Beer.”

Soon all of these will have gone.

A great variety of such signs were found in New York, and several other cities while hunting in a taxi. The most common is the Brave gazing, with right hand over brow; next an Indian Queen or a young girl with a tobacco leaf or bunch of cigars in hand; Squaw with Papoose; Minnehaha, a very pretty girl, offering cigars; Punch and also Punchinello, this last extremely comical both in face and figure. The one whose photo you see here cost $50 at second hand and the present owner would not sell it, she 28says, for twice that sum. And as we scoot here and there in all sorts of out of the way places, we see a Policeman, a Baseball Player, a Hunter in appropriate garb, a handsome Highland Chieftain. Cupid is not omitted; of course not, he is popular and found everywhere. Actors of the past generation have been honored: Edwin Forrest as Metamora, and the elder Sothern as Lord Dundreary. One of these pictures was taken in front of a cigar store in Worcester, the sign is nearly fifty years old and the Indian was formerly the Figure Head of a merchant vessel; if he could speak, wondrous tales of danger and wild adventure would come from his lips.

His owner would not take a fortune for him, so his future is secure. This one is believed to be the oldest Indian sign in New England as it is more than 75 years old. He is now kept inside the store for fear of injury.


Squaw with Papoose and other Charmers



THE Indian which has stood on top of Tammany Hall for nearly forty years deserves special mention. He was not placed in that elevated position as a tobacco sign, although a number of the modern chieftains display cigars and tobacco in their liquor stores. There is no significance connected with the figure in that direction. One of the oldest Tammany Sachems writes me that some one proposed an arched ornament for the then fine building in Fourteenth street in the year 1878, and the figure decided upon to complete the effect was that of the Indian Chief Tammenand, or St. Tammany, so called to make a little fun of the various Saints of other organizations, as St. Francis, St. Andrews and so on.

My friend further says that in England and on the Continent in early times, a favorite sign of tobacconists was first a colored boy, then later an Indian King or Queen. He adds, “I remember in my boyish days many Indian figures, in front of cigar shops; stalwart Indian Chiefs holding out a bunch of cigars, or an Indian Princess with a Tobacco leaf. Some of the latter were cleverly carved, ornamented dress and scarf with usually one breast exposed.”

I read in a recent Daily, that a cook in New York, minus work and a place to lay his head, took unwisely three drinks and four knives and dashed out into the crowded street, throwing up a knife to show his dexterity as a juggler!

32In his excited condition, he happened to cut his own hand; the sight of blood made him more wild, and glaring at one of the wooden Indians who seemed to be staring at him, he attacked him fiercely with heavy hacks and thwacks until hurried away by a passing policeman.

This last fleeting statue even figures in one of the World’s funny series of the trials of the “Newly Weds.” That two toothed baby, who, with all his pranks never ceases to fascinate, wanted one of these Indians to take home and only closed his mouth when his adoring and long-suffering Dad had bought one and carried it along with them, with his befeathered head sticking out one way and legs the other. No doubt there are many capital jokes connected with this subject, but the first one to look up an odd theme has a hard hunt for facts. I know that a well known Steel Magnate gave a beautiful church to the town where his mother lived, at her request.

And not entirely satisfied, she next begged him to get a statue of some Saint to make the gift perfect and adorn the grounds. He promised, and soon a long box came directed to his mother but alas! it proved to be one of the wooden men, of which we are talking. Her son was fond of practical jokes!

A friend has told me that the Indians of Oklahoma resent these representations of people of their race and want to suppress them all. It is difficult to find any in many of our large cities; photographers write that they have been obliged to hunt not in a taxi or auto, but by groping in store lofts and dark attics and that then the figures must be taken “down and out” to get a right light on them.


Saint Tammany of the Delaware Tribe
We Are Tending Strictly to Business

Every man to whom I have appealed for aid in making my story interesting, through pictures, has 35been most courteous and amiable. I have written to absolute strangers—often to a Post Master for the name of a skilful photographer in his town, another perfect stranger, and have always been answered promptly and sometimes with enthusiasm. Several have refused pay, saying they had got real pleasure out of the work and were sorry there was nothing more to do. Sometimes they were obliged to crawl out on a roof and shovel away snow to rescue the poor Indian.



TO show the genuine interest shown in my collection I will offer one letter from a business man in Worcester, Mass:

“Dear Miss Sanborn:—I have come across these figures and think you may use them. They are good examples of their craft and are quite clear. First Punch, he is over eighty years old and is whole from his knee down. I haven’t taken his face because he would have to be got down in order to do so, but if you say you do want it and can wait a week for it I am perfectly willing to take same and not have the other one show; really he has a strong face and I can, no doubt, get a good clean picture, front view.

Am going to tell you all I can remember about them; if it is of no use to you, no harm is done.

First: The Squaw, stands in front of a store; her owner has had same about ten years; she has a lovely face as you see and originally came from Boston.

Second, Punch, formerly owned by a German, claimed there were but two like it in this country.

Third, “Humpty Dumpty,” a likeness of the original Geo. L. Fox, who was the original “Humpty Dumpty.” In conversation with Mr. Sawyer, he said that how he happened to get the figure was thus: “A man in Woonsocket, R.I., took it for a bill due him; he in turn had means of getting rid of a lot of tobacco among the fishermen of Gloucester, so he gave the sign for the tobacco which he in turn sold to the fishermen at Gloucester. Now should you care for any of these, I’ll do them all under one consideration. No more pay; you have overpaid me already for the little I have been able to do and I’m unwilling to accept any more.”

38I desire also to heartily thank Mr. Jacob Riis, who is one of the busiest and kindest men in New York. He allowed me to use his description in his last book, “The Old Town,” of an Indian who was a chum of his in childhood and he writes me that he has sent home to Ribe for a special picture of the Sign he describes. Here is his story of his friend.

“We boys in the Old Town were strictly prohibited from smoking under the School rules, which prescribed the rod for every offence. In consequence, we did it on the sly, thinking it manly and fine. At his desk at home, Father smoked all the time, and so did everybody else. Many a pound of Kanaster have I carried home from the tobacconist’s shop, the one in Gronnegade, with the naked brown Indian smoking a very long pipe.

“From the moment the ‘Last of the Mohicans’ fell into my hands, I looked upon him as a friend and brother. There was something between us which the grown-ups knew nothing about. He must be acquainted with Uncas and Chingachgook and Deerslayer, for he was of the good Delawares and not of the wicked Hurons.

“He swings from his hook yet, and I confess to a nodding acquaintance when I pass him in the street. His pipe is still the biggest part.” In one of Mr. Riis’ letters he says, “Certainly you may use the Indian in the Old Town and here is a picture of him. He is fixed now on the wall. In my childhood he swung from a hook smoking his long pipe. You merely see the hand that holds it in this picture.

“Good luck with your book and with all your work.

“I am glad you have a farm. It is the only way to live.”

Faithfully yours,
Jacob A. Riis.”


Representative of the National Game
Jockey with Cigar Box



HERE’S a New York Politician’s opinion about the Indians he knew. “Say, Spielberg, were you in the Assembly at Albany in 1901?”

“No, this is only my second term. Let me explain how they do things up there. I went there, full of enthusiasm for the public service. Being a new member, I scarcely expected to get on one of the big committees, but I thought I was entitled to something. The Speaker put me on the Indian Affairs Committee. The only Indians I knew anything about were the braves of the Tammany tribe, but I was willing to learn. I read the works of J. Fenimore Cooper so as to get posted on Indian Affairs. When I got a pretty good grip on the subject I waited for a meeting of my committee, but couldn’t find any. Near the close of the session I went to an old member of the Legislature and asked him if there were any Indians in the state and if so what was I supposed to do for them.

“‘Indians in New York?’ he came back. ‘Plenty of them. You come from Manhattan and must have noticed a number of them in front of cigar stores with uplifted tomahawks. These Indians are exposed to all kinds of weather and it is your duty to observe the weather effect and be ready to report on the same when the committee meets.’

“I asked him when the committee did meet and he said, ‘I have been here for the past six years 42and it has not met yet, but it is likely to meet any day.’”

Sometimes tobacco signs are painted on boards, and of such a curious example is to be seen at the door of a small establishment bearing the sonorous name of the “Mephisto Cigar Store.”

It is a typical representation of the typical stage demon, dressed in tights and furnished with the regulation bat like wings.


Sothern As “Dundreary”—The Others You may Name as you Please



AS the “Wooden Indian” has long been a by-word, and a popular symbol of stolidity in mind and body, I have thought it worth while to show that like more pretentious statuary he may furnish inspiration to the Muse of Poetry. Here is an advertisement in verse sent me by a lady of Seneca Falls, New York.

“Where the stately Indian chieftian
Stands in silence by the door,
Down on Vall street, stop and peep in
You will find a splendid store.
Should you choose the weed Nicotian
Choice tobaccos that inspire
Whose sweet incense wins devotion
To the smoking meerschaum’s fire,
Would you purchase true enjoyment,
Joy without a shade of sorrow;
Would you rest from your employment
With a fragrant rich cigarro,
Formed from meerschaum, clay and brier,
Tipped with amber, stemmed with cherry,
Are the bowls for perfumed fire,
Holding fumes that make men merry,
Or, should you prefer to “quid” it,
And to taste the weed’s dark juices,
Warrington will not forbid it
Neither need you make excuses.
46You who love the weed they call sweet,
Plug or fine cut, twist or leaf,
Go to Warrington’s at Vall street
There where stands the Indian Chief.”


Punch with Impressive Nose
Another Punch—less fortunate
Punchinello and Nondescript



WHAT a sarcasm of Destiny it is that when we have driven out and killed off all the Indians who were so happy here, we write poetry praising them, novels about the good looking, brave, and almost, too saintly Red Man. And now it is seriously urged that a suitable Memorial be erected in New York Harbor to the Memory of the North American Indian whose ranks are thinning so rapidly, that within a comparatively few years more, the race will be obliterated by the advance of the white man’s civilization. That is rather a rosy way of describing the treatment the Indian has received.

The proposed statue will be colossal in size and of bronze in construction, with outstretched arm, typifying a greeting from the primal American to the people of all other nations.

That might be well represented by “Samoset,” illustrating the finer, better traits of the Indian, when he cried out a “Welcome, Englishmen” to the strangers who were landing.

I have dwelt so much on this theme that I’m actually confusing the real Indian with a wooden statue. Never mind. Did you know that Schiller wrote an Indian Death song?

I’ll quote a few verses:

“Well for him! he’s gone his ways,
Where are no more snows;
Where the fields are decked with maize
That unplanted grows;
50Where with beasts of chase each wood,
Where with bird each tree,
Where with fish is every flood
Stocked full pleasantly.
He above with spirits feeds;
We, alone and dim,
Left to celebrate his deeds,
And to bury him.”


Jim Crow—(made 87 years ago)
Please Name Him



I am told that a Collector went about in Baltimore twenty years ago and bought up all the best of these signs in that city, for their carving was often admirable, spirited, and artistic. A friend sends me an interesting history of that “Ancient Baltimorean, the Cigar Store Indian,” written in 1908 for a paper of that city.

On good authority, it is stated that there are 2,000 tobacco stores in Baltimore. One finds them in all parts of the city, on street corners, in basements, in the middle of blocks and fronting alleys.

It is estimated that 150 of these 2,000 tobacco stores are identified by a wooden figure just as a barber shop is identified by a ribbon-striped pole. The wooden figures are almost always found to represent an Indian, although occasionally there are other figures.

And so they may be found differing in size, coloring, ornamentation, state of repair and general condition, or rather, in most cases, general debility.

To review the history of these Indians one would naturally look to a tobacconist of age, with years in the business of dealing in and manufacturing of smokers’ articles, and in interviewing several of such many facts of interest may be learned.

The oldest tobacconist in Baltimore is venerable Mr. Caspari, of Calvert street, one of whose figures was mentioned above.

Mr. Caspari’s story of the Indian is as follows: 54“The first figures were made by ship carpenters 125 years ago and were carved out of lengths of old seasoned masts.

“In those days of individual effort and prosperity cigar stores were few and far between, and for a sign to identify them they used the figure of an Indian, because from the Indian, the white man first received tobacco.

“At first the figure was painted on each side of a board. This was placed in front of the store. From that evolved the carving of the figure from solid wood as a new idea and more attractive and progressive, as well as more expensive and valuable.

“Fifty years ago no tobacconist would think of opening a store without a figure. Now the men in the trade think that to put an Indian out is to waste money.

“When I started business, in 1861, my stock cost me $30, and I had a figure that cost $40. I had to have the sign, though it cost more money than the stock inside. Since then I have been 46 years in business on one (Calvert) street,” said Mr. Caspari.

In 1864 he hired a man from New York to make figures for him. The first figure was a small one, representing an Indian squaw. This was sold in Baltimore in 1865 and brought $15.

These figures were made out of old masts. Each one was handmade with saw, knife, chisel and such tools of the trade. The sculptor would work on five or six different ones in turn and take, on an average, about a week’s time to finish a figure.

Mr. Caspari has sold figures in many other towns and cities.

In the old days, customers coming in and wanting a figure would choose some new design, and so “Girls of the Period” were next in vogue. These were fanciful, flashy figures and very attractive.


Four of a Kind

57“Pipitone, on Charles street, near Baltimore, years ago bought one of these fancy figures,” said Mr. Caspari, “and soon after a storm blew it to Baltimore street, damaging it badly. He brought it back and had it repaired and painted and about two months after that a horse ran away and the wagon caught the figure and broke it to pieces.”



IN 1868 or 1870 “Fritz in Ireland” was acted by J. K. Emmet at the Holliday Street Theatre, in Baltimore, and the actor sang his famous lullaby to one of these “Girls of the Period” figures. After these Mr. Caspari offered drum majors, represented with Uncle Sam breeches and clothed to correspond.

Then came “Champagne Charley,” with side whiskers, red coat, striped trousers and holding a bottle in one hand, at which he pointed a finger of the other.

Then came the soldier. This figure carried a genuine old musket.

Next appeared the “Scotch Girl,” with Tam-o-shanter and plaid dress, like a bag-pipe player.

With a large assortment of figures on exhibit to choose from, Mr. Caspari did a good business. Every cigar store that started had one.

New customers looking about for a figure would come in with a new idea and new designs would be made to order. Mr. Caspari had 100 figures on exhibition at one time.

Last were made Punches and clowns. This was about 20 years ago. After that the trade fell off and the stock was sold out.

The value of figures depended on the size, amount of work and time necessary to finish them and on their newness of design and ornamentation. They cost new, from $15 up to $250. One Mr. Caspari sold for $400.

60He bought a little darky figure at one time on Pratt street that had resisted the elements for 150 years. This little figure was about 30 inches high.

During the war, on a St. Patrick’s Day, he dressed the darky in a green coat, with a clover leaf and tall hat. An Irish soldier came along and, seeing the darky, became incensed and knocked it off its block, exclaiming vehemently against its being an Irish “nigger.”

On another St. Patrick’s Day a drunken Irishman, seeing the darky in similar patriotic regalia, made such a disturbance that a policeman had to be called.

Figures were sold all over Baltimore and were repaired frequently. Some were more exposed to the elements than others. Some were of such design that portions were more easily broken off than was the case with others.


Sagamore, Sachem or Pow-Wow



TO repaint a figure cost from $10 to $15. They were always painted flashily with high-grade paint and trimmings of genuine gold or silver or whatever metal was called for. Some had earrings, others beads, bracelets or necklaces to repaint fancifully. Then the feathers of the Indian required the highest artistic blending of colors.

Mr. Caspari had scores of paint pots used in connection with this branch of his business. Each held a different colored paint.

As a rule figures required repainting every 18 months, although Mr. Fricke’s Indian, bought 25 years ago, has had but three coats of paint.

“But they never could get the color again as it was at first,” says Mr. Fricke.

The 2-foot law as applied to obstructions of sidewalks has been one of the main causes for the removal of the Indian and such figures.

Mr. Hutchingson has in front of his store on Gay street an Indian maiden which came into his possession with other stock in 1896. A former owner once recognized it and stated that he had had it for 30 years.

Mr. Hutchingson says this is the only Indian that experienced and survived the big fire of 1904. The Church of the Messiah, corner of Gay and Fayette streets, was the only church that burned, and this Indian saw it burn and was herself blistered and cracked. Since then she has had a new coat of paint.

64George Eikenberg, on East Fayette street, has had a figure in front of his store for 30 years. Mr. Decker, of North Gay street, above Belair Market, has an Indian made by a Mr. Gato on North Caroline street. Mr. Decker bought it in 1879, and the only repairing done has been on one arm that was accidentally broken off. It has been painted every two years and has always done good service.

Incidentally, Mr. Gato, the sculptor, was a short man and had to stand on a chair to carve part of the Indian, which is itself a small one.


Place aux Dames



MISS Wurach, 733 West Pratt street, Baltimore, states that her father started in business 51 years ago and that she and her brother now continue to keep the store, her father being dead. The figure in front is the second one used in 51 years. The age of the present figure is not known.

Mr. Bringman’s Indian figure, on West Baltimore street, is very old and very impressive in appearance, being of unusually large size and displaying great muscular development. It has required much repairing about the feet and on one thigh.

Very interesting is the story of F. Dreves’ figure, on West Fayette street, above Park avenue, as told by Mr. Dreves.

The late Mr. Dreves, Sr., at one time dealt in Indian figures.

Sailing vessels that for a long time plied up and down the coast of America and across the Atlantic carrying merchandise and passengers would become unfit for further use at sea and were then dismantled.

Often the masts of these old sailing vessels would be trailed in the water and towed into port. These portions of masts would, in the water, become hardened, or even petrified. They were of large size and furnished excellent material for wood carving of all kinds.

About 35 years ago the late Mr. Dreves obtained two lengths of such masts and wished to have two Indian figures carved from them.

68He found a German sculptor from Munich who had carved figures now to be seen adorning the Capitol at Washington.

The German sculptor had never seen an Indian, but when shown pictures of the figures he was to carve exclaimed: “O yes, that’s the American,” meaning that the Indian was the only native American.

Each Indian completed cost $115 in the raw wood.


All High Rollers



THE Indians carved by the German sculptor are represented with catamount hide for covering. A quiver of arrows is fastened over the left shoulder. In the right hand is a bow and the left hand holds a bunch of tobacco leaves.

Evidence of the skill and training of the now departed German sculptor may be seen in the figure. Every muscle visible on the human form is executed in its exact relation.

The little depression about the kneepan, the lines of the shinbone and the condyles of the elbow joint are perfect.

The brother of Mr. Dreves’ Indian was purchased by Mr. Oppelt and may now be seen in front of his store on Park avenue.

This Indian was sold to the present Mr. Oppelt’s father 35 years ago for about the price of carving and material as given above.



JOHN E. Owens made a great hit with his popular play “The Live Indian,” in which he took down and hid a stunning figure, that had stood many years before a cigar store, in fact considered to be one of “the oldest inhabitants.”

Made up as an exact counterpart of this, he mounted the pedestal and waited until midnight, when he broke into the store, and hastened away, rich in booty; not leaving, however, till he had replaced the insulted Indian in his rightful place.

This was an irresistibly comical sight. But the wooden Indian must go; his death knell has been rung. In the old days, a cigar store without this symbol, would be as lacking in life as a one ring Circus at the present time. All has changed: you can walk street after street in any city, and pass tobacco stores by the score but your old friend is not there. Tobacco sales are now managed by advertisements and gaudy lithographs of chorus girls smoking cigarettes, or fancy pictures just to catch the eye. These are the new favorites and soon the Indian Sign will be obsolete; a relic of the ages.

This fact suggested making a collection to preserve his memory.

I fancy I hear some one say, “This seems to end rather abruptly.” That is true; but just as Horace Greeley said, “The way to resume is to resume,” I think the way to stop is to stop. And it is a 74triumph of self control in a woman to stop short when she really has nothing more to communicate.

I hope that this little historic Souvenir, will be desired by every man who smokes and every woman who “loves the odor of a good cigar.” Like Col. Sellers, I have prepared a bottle for each eye.

And now in a whisper let me close with a treasonable quotation from Kipling:

“A woman’s only a woman—but a good cigar is a smoke!”


A Poseur
A Jolly Party
Lady Enjoying the Weed
And Last of All an Admiral Came