The Art of the English Trade Gun in North America


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About the Book

Symbolic ornamentation inspired by ancient Greek and Roman art is a long-standing Western tradition. The author explores the designs of 18th century English gunsmiths who engraved classical ornamental patterns on firearms gifted or traded to American Indians. A system of allegory is found that symbolized the Americas of the New World in general, and that enshrined the American Indian peoples as “noble savages.”
The same allegorical context was drawn upon for symbols of national liberty in the early American republic. Inadvertently, many of the symbolic designs used on the trade guns strongly resonated with several Native American spiritual traditions.

About the Author(s)

Nathan Bender is a librarian/archivist in Laramie, Wyoming, and an independent research folklorist. He has published on western folklore and history, historic archaeology and material culture, and Native American studies in scholarly books and journals.

Bibliographic Details

Nathan E. Bender
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 179
Bibliographic Info: 98 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7115-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3272-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction: Designing Beauty for a New World 3
1. Light Fusils for the Iroquois 7
2. Broad Arrow and Sitting Fox 18
3. St. George and the Dragon 30
4. Chief’s Gun Patterns and Ornamentation 57
5. Arrows of Artemis 85
6. Diana and the Dragon 97
7. America and the Noble Savage 105
8. American Liberty 119
9. Respect for Arrows 130
Bibliography 143
Index 163