Work in Wire
In the 17th century, Native Americans of New England produced ornaments which are coiled or folded from a thick brass or copper wire. A Wampanoag brass wire 'ornament' from Rhode Island, having a fleur-de-lis design, is typical of such metal work in wire (Groce 1980). This wire ornament appears to be a 17th century cloak fastener, or a Native American-made facsimile (Hume 1969). However, the Native American to which this ornament belonged may not have used it as a cloak fastener, and may have worn it as a pendant instead.
The European manufacture of some wire ornaments possessed by Natives in the 17th century can not be entirely ruled out. However, many wire objects, including bracelets, earrings and rings associated with Native American archaeological sites, have traditional Native American forms and decoration.
Bracelets of metal wire are usually made of copper or brass, bent back and forth forming a broad surface (Beauchamp 1903). Such a bracelet of coiled copper wire found was found in Fleming, New York (Beauchamp 1903). There exists, a similar Tunica bracelet (11.6 mm wide), from Lousiana, made by bending very thin wire that was folded into concentric ovals. The wire is held together in three places by iron bands running across the width of the bracelet (Brain 1979).
Orchard (1975) describes and illustrates a necklace and a breast-ornament of copper from one of the Salish tribes of British Colombia which is made from several long brass beads of wire which has been hammered flat and twisted spirally. Similar spiral ornaments were worn as ear ornaments by the Seneca in New York (Wray et. al. 1987). Iroquois finger rings from New York were also formed from spiraled copper wire (Beauchamp 1903), or using thin rolled tubes of brass (Wray et. al. 1987).
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