Friday, May 17, 2019

Territorial Brand Certificate


A document which was brought to me at the Footprints on the Trail show in Great Falls during Western Art Week.  They asked for Charlie's image of a starving cow by itself, and no brand, since the certificate had the brand specified on the Left. I wish I could find a Territorial Brand Certificate actually utilized before 1889.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Harley-Davidson Board Track Racer


Harley-Davidson board track racer on a piece of Indian Motocycle paper. Because I wanted to. It's in its new home. There will be more. I have some Harley-Davidson paper. Perhaps I'll put an Indian board track racer on it. Keep things even so to speak.

Monday, February 18, 2019

James W. Diamond R. Brown


From C. M. Russell's "Wagon Boss"

The possible names that I have and the sources for those names in this image are as follows: The Gilcrease Museum where the original painting resides cites a passage from the book Half Interest in a Silver Dollar: The Saga of Charles E. Conrad. On page 22 "The man in the painting is sitting on his horse as he watches the progress of the wagons up the grade. Art critics believe the man pictured is Ed Trainer, wagon boss for the I. G. Baker Company."

From the CMR Museum Archives: Col #2011.8.3 Box No. Card 6, Frederic G. and Ginger K. Renner Special Collection, Wagon Boss Card No. 2 3429B The Wagon Boss in the painting is"Doc" Freeles of Fort Benton, uncle of Coburn F. Maddox. Originally sold by Nancy Russell to Fletcher Maddox.

The most intriguing name that I found I can attribute to Ken Robison, historian at the Overholser Historical Research Center in Fort Benton. In a two part story for the River Press in 2012, Mr. Robison described a fellow by the name of James W. Brown who was a Civil War veteran, and in part one of the story, his military experiences, including the fact he was wounded three times is outlined. The second part of the story, and the one that I found tells of the most likely subject of the painting, although Charlie could very well have substituted the face of anyone for that of James Brown. The character that was portrayed may have been a combination of gear for the Diamond R, and a subject of Charlie's choice.


James W. Brown came west as a bull whacker in the Summer of 1866, driving a team of oxen and wagon from Nebraska to Salt Lake City. He loaded the wagon with freight for Helena in August, and arrived in Helena in September. Originally working for another business as wagon boss, he engaged with the original Diamond R, owned by John J Roe & Company under the business name Overland Express Company. I'm including an image of a way bill for the Diamond R below.


I've yet to decide what I'm going to put on this one, but it will involve the Diamond R, that's for certain.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

A Quiet Day in Utica


"A Quiet Day in Utica"
first titled "Tinning the Dog"

A fabulous piece of history here, which includes a number of recognizable individuals. The most important fellow is head and shoulders above the rest, and the gentleman whose sons commissioned Charlie to paint this piece for their father, Charles Lehman, or as Charlie called him "Charley". His name is on the sign above his business. A total of fourteen individuals are depicted, including Charlie himself, leaning against the rail just to the right of the Tinned Man's ride. Also, three chickens untold horses and one unhappy dog. The large tin, if anyone is curious, was for fish oil.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Sharps 1874 Big .50 Sporting Rifle


I will start with the subject of this piece first. I found this rifle on an auction site with plenty of close-up photographs and provenance. The site is Collectors Firearms, The serial number is pictured in one of the photographs as #C54634, one of three Model 1874 Sporting Rifles in .50 Caliber shipped from the factory in Hartford, Connecticut. The shipping date is listed as April 24, 1875, and was sent to a the sporting goods dealer Spies, Kissam & Company in New York City. The total cost of all three of these rifles, plus bullet molds and shipping crate was $92.94.

I could have chosen a different Sharps, perhaps one of their Buffalo Rifles, but Collectors Firearms supplied plenty of photographs of this one, and I decided to go with this one rather than one that perhaps would have been used here in Montana - because I LIKED IT.

I have used this rifle before.  In 2016, I used it on a piece of billhead for another early Helena merchant, although this time I'm even more confident that I've used a document that has been authenticated. A Montana gentleman who collects anything Sharps has confirmed that Adolph Birkenfeld was indeed a Sharps dealer, and one of the rifles he owns is listed as being shipped to Mr. Birkenfeld in 1874. The business was at 10 South Main, and the business was still at the same location in 1900. The census for that year lists Mr. Birkenfeld as a Capitalist. He was in the right business!