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APACHE CANTEENS – SCARCE APACHE WARS ERA NATIVE WOVEN BASKETRY SPECIMENS IN VERY GOOD CONDITION:  Relatively scarce artifacts of the Apache Wars Era, commonly known as Apache Canteens, these are masterly executed examples of the native basketry art.  Woven in the same tight method as other Apache basketry pieces, these canteens features rigid faces and side pieces, and masterfully fashioned integral spouts and a pair of suspension cord guides.   

While the Apache’s traditional method of carrying water was the Tus, as they were exposed to the European cultures and accoutrements, certainly the native basket makers rose to the challenge to copy those pieces they found useful.  Between the centuries of exposure to the Spanish, Mexicans and Americans who ventured into Apacheria, there was ample opportunity to become familiar with the form and function of the canteens they carried.  To their credit, not only did the Apache successfully copy the form of the canteen in their native basketry, but they created a piece which is not only functional, but presents as an attractive piece of art.   

Obtained from an advanced collection of unique 19TH Century Apache items, these canteens shows evidence of use as seen from the polishing of the face surfaces where it was carried against a person’s body or hung against the body of a horse.  These are not specimens which were produced for the early 20TH Century tourist trade, but are canteens which certainly saw use in the arid Southwest frontier where any vessel of water meant the difference between life and death.    

These are very beautiful pieces which would complement a collection of any number of different subject concentrations – Native American, Indian Wars frontier army to name only two.  To be honest, it took some doing to pry these out of my wife’s hands and list them for sale.  Quite scarce with very few of these appearing on the market, and given that as long as we have them she can still change her mind about selling them, I wouldn’t wait too long to buy. 

I have the following canteens listed below, each described individually with accompanying photographs.    

 

NO. 1  APACHE CANTEEN - IN VERY GOOD CONDITION:  Measuring 6” in diameter and 2 ¼” wide, this canteen has survived in very good condition, showing only the slightest evidence of wear and age.  The weave is tight throughout with no weak points or breaks.  The rims of each side which stand proud of the faces of the canteen have experienced some wear with a couple of small sections worn away, but this does not affect the integrity of the canteen nor does this minor loss open any seams or edges.  On one side are two places where pine pitch was used to seal the weave.  These applications of pitch are commonly seen on larger Apache tus and ollas and both of these show age and were certainly done concurrent with the use of the canteen.   

The spout is an amazing example of basket maker’s skill as it is woven as an integral part of the canteen, rather than being a separate addition.  The spout is full form, showing no wear, weakness or loss around the rim.  Both suspension string guides are present and intact.  The original full length suspension string is intact and still quite supple with no weak points.  (See the size comparison photo below, showing this canteen pictured along side a standard Civil War canteen.)  (0368)  $750

 

NO. 2  APACHE CANTEEN - IN VERY GOOD CONDITION:  Measuring 9 ½” diameter and 4” thick at the center, this canteen resembles the ovoid shape of the Civil War and Indian War US Army canteens without the distinctive flat rim featured on the canteen listed above as “NO. 1”.  This canteen has survived in very good condition, showing only the slightest evidence of wear and age.  The weave is tight throughout with no weak points or breaks.  The seam where the two sides meet are still very tight showing only the slightest evidence of wear, none of which affects the integrity of the canteen nor does this minor loss open any seams or edges.  There are a couple of spots where pine pitch was used to seal the weave.  These applications of pitch are commonly seen on larger Apache tus and ollas and the pitch shows age and was certainly applied concurrent with the use of this canteen.  

The spout is an amazing example of basket maker’s skill as it is woven as an integral part of the canteen, rather than being a separate addition.  The spout shows some wear around the rim, but it shows no weakness nor is it loose.  Both suspension strap guides are present and intact, large enough to have accommodated a wide canvas or hide strap which would have been necessary to carry a canteen of this size.  (See the size comparison photo below, showing this canteen pictured along side a standard Civil War canteen.)  (0814)  $550

 

NO. 3  APACHE CANTEEN - IN VERY GOOD CONDITION:  Measuring 9” diameter and 3 ½” thick at the center, this canteen resembles the ovoid shape of the Civil War and Indian War US Army canteens without the distinctive flat rim featured on the canteen listed above as “NO. 1”.  This canteen has survived in very good condition, showing only the slightest evidence of wear and age.  The weave is tight throughout with no weak points or breaks.  The seam where the two sides meet are still very tight showing no evidence of wear.  There is an application of pine pitch over the bottom half of both sides of the canteen which was used to seal the weave.  These applications of pitch are commonly seen on larger Apache tus and ollas and the pitch shows age and was certainly applied concurrent with the use of this canteen.   

The spout is an amazing example of basket maker’s skill as it is woven as an integral part of the canteen, rather than being a separate addition.  The spout is full form with no sign of wear, or any loss around the rim.  This canteen was not woven with any suspension strap guides and the absence of the guides may indicate this canteen was intended to be used solely in camp, or possibly on a wagon.  (See the size comparison photo below, showing this canteen pictured along side a standard Civil War canteen.)  (0815)  $500

 
 
 
 
 
 

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