Apr 13, 2023 - Sale 2633

Sale 2633 - Lot 6

Price Realized: $ 3,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,000 - $ 1,500
(AMERICAN INDIANS.) Partial fur trading ledger from the Upper Mississippi. 16 manuscript pages, 6 x 7 3/4 inches, on 6 detached folding sheets; moderate wear, each sheet tipped to mat board; 1951 provenance note taped to one leaf. No place, March 1845

Additional Details

These leaves are said to be removed from an American Fur Company ledger, which certainly fits the content. The company had been founded by John Jacob Astor in 1808, but by 1845 the fur trade was in decline, Astor had long since sold off his interest, and the company neared bankruptcy. Most pages contain a single account with a named American Indian--tribal affiliation unknown. Names include "Hay Pee, Red Canoe's son"; Ebbeau; Can Yree Kee Yai; Hee Yain Hee Nah Pai; and many others. They are typically credited with bringing furs: coons (raccoons), rats (muskrats) or mink. They are debited for cash or trade goods such as flour, beads, and clothing. A young man identified only as "the chief's son" was charged a dollar for a calico shirt. A few of the accounts date back to 1844, but several have their balances given as of 13 March 1845, presumably when this volume was closed out.

We find only one place name that can be pinned down: an Indian named Pai Pai was credited for "42 rats & cash on my way from Prairie du Chien at Holms." Prairie du Chien was a major American Fur Company post on southwestern Wisconsin along the upper Mississippi River. Many of these entries refer to transactions at "Holms," apparently a trading post, but we have been unable to identify it. The leaves were acquired in 1951 from collector William H. Amerland of Wabasha, Minnesota, site of another post about 120 miles further up the river.