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Adapted from The North American Indian Portfolios, 1993 ~ Library of Congress</center></i></font>
Adapted from The North American Indian Portfolios, 1993 ~ Library of Congress
Seminole Silver Work
circa 1830s

by Michael R. Brown (Nov. 1989)

in 19th Century Seminole Men`s Clothing
Rick Obermeyer ~ Editor

All ornamental metalwork of the Seminoles was made of German silver, or rarely, real silver, At first these items were trade goods, but later these items were made by Indians, many times by beating silver coins together.

There were no limits on who could wear these items. They were not indications of wealth or status. Note: many o these items can be made of sheet nickel-silver obtainable from Indian lore suppliers, or use any silver-gray metal.

Gorgets (silver crescents):

  • There is no proof of beads being added to gorget thongs, nor were they made of copper.

  • The crescents may be hung on a chain or leather thong.

  • The gorget was worn close to the neck. The were originally neck armor.

  • Shoe buttons should be used in the holes to hold the gorgets. These buttons were originally silver.

  • Gorgets were the last remnants of medieval armor. The were used as officer’s insignia, and were given as gifts to important Indian chiefs. The became so popular that they were used as trade goods.

  • Gorgets are worn in groups of one to four. There is no significance to the number used. However, four were rare.

  • There are no designs on the gorget, they were left plain except for a raised line along the edge.

  • Silver Gorgets: History and Instructions

    Arm Bands:

  • Worn on upper arm or wrist (wristbands only seen in paintings of Osceola).

  • 1 to 1 ˝ inches wide.

  • Soldered ends...
    - or -
  • Tied together with leather...
    - or -
  • Tied together with wool and ends left pendant (only when worn on wrist).

  • Ear Bobs:

  • 1 or 2 worn in ear

  • Typical example at left

  • This can be made from 2 to 3 silver beads (3rd goes on top), silver cone, and wire.

  • Other kinds were made from beaten coins with geometric designs cut in.

  • Bands:

  • Worn around turban.

  • 1 to 1 ˝ inches wide (can be larger).

  • Ends tied with leather.

  • Almost everyone wore one.

  • Some decorated with scalloped top (ex: Billy Bowlegs).

  • Detail, "Billy Bowlegs", National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

    Decorating Armbands and Turban Bands:

    Courtesy National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution

  • Decorated with embossed lines and dots.

  • Designs were raised, not punched through.

  • Designs should be simple.

  • Finger Rings:

  • Worn, but rare.

  • Some were soldered bands with a ‘table’ soldered on top.

  • Rings may be trade goods.

  • Rings occasionally were made from copper or gold.

    Peace Medals for Seminole Outfits
    Seminole Beads
    Face Painting

    Complete Index to Articles in 19th Century Seminole Mens Clothing

    Information Sources:

  • "Silver Work of the Florida Seminole.", John Goggin, El Palacio, Vol. 40, No. 2, 1940.

  • "Florida Seminole Silverwork.", Byron Johnson, Florida Anthropologist, Vol. 29, No. 3, 1976.

    Contributed by Rick Obermeyer E-mail:
    From the book 19th Century Seminole Mens Clothing
    © 1991-2000 Sherwood F. Obermeyer Jr., 2124 Miscindy Place, Orlando, FL 32806

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