Fargo, D.T. F. Jay Haynes, [ca. 1885]. Cabinet card, with mounted albumen photograph measuring 6.25 x 4 inches. Captioned in negative. Light wear at edges of card; small hole neatly punched at top edge for hanging; some old adhesive at edges of card verso. Minor dust soiling and very faint foxing to photo area, but still a strong, clean image. About very good. Item #1656
A scarce and striking portrait of a Sioux man identified as Bear Coat, by famed photographer of the American West, F. Jay Haynes. This image was published as a cabinet card by Haynes while he operated his studio in Fargo, Dakota Territory, from 1879 to 1889, likely around 1885, with his pictorial imprint on the rear of the card. In the photograph, Bear Coat sits in a somewhat relaxed pose, with a wide-brimmed felt hat perched jauntily on his head. He is dressed nattily in a quilled buckskin jacket with wide, embroidered cuffs; a gun belt is strapped around his waist, and he cradles a new Colt revolver in both hands. It is not immediately evident from the image, but it seems likely that Bear Coat was a scout for the U.S. military, at least given his armament and clothes. It is unclear whether his name bears any relation to the identical Native American nickname for Gen. Nelson A. Miles. A somewhat similar photograph, in which Bear Coat sits bare-headed in a more formal pose, without his gun belt and revolver, is published in Freeman Tilden's book on Haynes, Following the Frontier, and several copies of that image have appeared for sale, but we do not locate any other examples of the present image.
An attractive Native American portrait by "one of the most prolific of the West's early photographers, and one of the finest" - Mautz.