Daily Archives: May 17, 2010

St Tammany weathervane

Artist unidentified
Possibly Massachusetts or New York
c. 1890
Paint on molded copper
American Folk Art Museum:

Until the early 1960s, this impressive weathervane dominated the small business district of the rural Delaware County hamlet of East Branch, New York. It stood at the very top of a turret on the roof of a large building, where it probably had been mounted about 1890. The building housed the local post office, a general store, and a lodge, or “tribe,” of the Improved Order of Red Men, a fraternal organization that based its ceremonial regalia and rituals on Indian lore and legend. The weathervane served as the symbol of the lodge.

The weathervane depicts Tammany, a semilegendary and widely respected chief of the Delaware Indians who is said to have played a significant role in the 1682 treaty between the Indians and William Penn. The legends concerning Tammany were important in the rituals of the Improved Order of Red Men. In an emblematic diploma published for the Order about 1912, Tammany is given the central place of honor, with Washington at his right.

The Tammany vane is stylistically related to one depicting Massasoit (c. 1580–1661), the chief of the Wampanoag Indians who negotiated a treaty with the Pilgrims in 1621. Several manufacturers in the late nineteenth century, including the Boston firms Harris & Company and W.A. Snow & Company (act. c. 1885–c. 1940), produced Massasoit vanes.

This striking figure may be the largest American weathervane ever produced. The presence of about twenty bullet holes confirms the stories that local marksmen used it for target practice in its last days in East Branch.

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The Woodville Plantation museum in Western Pennsylvania recalls St Tammany’s Day with an article on Page Six of its newsletter on the “Forgotten Holiday.”

Forgotten holiday is right — here St Tammany is the patron of this blog and the Jury Box is more than two weeks late in remembering the May 1 feast day. Mea culpa. But better late than never.

And it is never too late to hoist a refreshing Tammany cocktail.

Walrus tusks for sale here.

All-American Monsters

Smithsonian Magazine on mammoths and mastodons:

A mammoth discovery in 1705 sparked a fossil craze and gave the young United States a symbol of national might.

By the 1780s, Jefferson convinced himself that the mammoth still lived. When, as president, he sent Lewis and Clark to explore the American West–it was partly to see if they could turn up a living mammoth.