In early January, I was perusing on-line antique and auction web sites when I came upon this little gem. I like to check out these sites periodically to see what types of Wabanaki material is on the market, and to help identify gaps in our collection. This wonderful piece jumped right out at me in that respect!
As many of you know, the Abbe Museum has over 1000 ash and sweetgrass baskets in our collection, but none like this 7 inch tall vignette. I have seen some of the individual parts, and I have seen similar scenes created with birchbark. I shared photos of this particular piece with other experts in the field. While we all agreed we had never seen anything quite like it, we also agreed that it was probably Passamaquoddy or Penobscot work from the early 20th century. I can envision a summer visitor purchasing this at a Wabanaki encampment on the coast of Maine to take home as a souvenir of their visit. And as Passamaquoddy historic preservation officer Donald Soctomah said, "What a nice weaving story."
With the generous support of trustee John Benson, the Abbe was able to acquire a new treasure for our permanent collection.