More than a century ago, ladies who traveled to the Saratoga Race Course or across the state to Niagara Falls would pick up mementos.
At tourist sites, Native American women would be waiting for such travelers and sell them exquisite handmade beadwork items: pin cushions, boxes, purses, picture frames and bird ornaments; objects that were perfectly suited to the ornately decorated Victorian home.
Once dismissed only as cheap souvenirs, antique Iroquois beadwork items are now recognized and appreciated as artwork, says Dolores Elliott, a retired archaeologist and collector of Iroquois beadwork.
“Many pieces today are true art objects in that a creative design was used to make them,” says Elliott. “I’ve never seen two identical pieces.”