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Welcome to Cigar Store Indian Statue Resource Information Center

7752 Fall creek Drive

Indianapolis, Indiana 46236

(317) 493-8583

To contact us for a quote, to talk about a statue idea or any other questions,
click on the email picture, or just click here

History of Western General Store Indian Statues

The most common type of General Store figure were Indian Chief's identifying the Trading Post. These figures, initially inspired by the American Indian - who had introduced the exotic weed to European explores - originated in 17th-century England. In America, however, Indian figures were not made in quantity until the mid-1800's. They generally depicted stereotypical chiefs and squaws - with plumed headdresses, tomahawks, or bows and arrows - but as the use of the Indian figure became widespread, carvers turned to more novel subjects, like the Western General Store Indian, also specializing in trade goods and appropriately shown with a bundle of cigars, a snuffbox, or a pipe.

The trade signs and shop figures that merchants customarily placed outside their stores enticed customers to spend their money on an ever-increasing range of goods during the 1800's. When the century opened, the American mercantile system was a specialized one. Since there was no wholesaling, merchants both in cities and in small towns generally made their own wares, and thus concentrated on a single product. The hat maker crafted and sold hats, for example, while the apothecary purveyed the drugs and remedies he mixed. One exception to the specialized shop, however, was the rural trading post, where farmers bartered their excess produce for necessities ranging from bullets to molasses.

By the mid-1800's, the development of factories and mills, as well as improved transportations systems, enabled manufacturers to distribute products on a national scale. City shops became retail outlets for manufactured goods, and the trading post developed into the bustling emporium known as the country store, which now stocked food delicacies, toilet soap, Paris ribbon, and Brussels lace, as well as more ordinary basics. The keeper of the country store often served as banker and postmaster, and his place of business also might double as a meeting lodge and social club, where townsfolk could gather to discuss politics or play checkers at the ubiquitopus cracker barrel.

Shop figures were not the only form of advertising that was used in early America; no sooner did business become established in this country than did trade symbols begin to appear over doorways and windows. These large, three-dimensional sculptures, the outgrowth of a European tradition believed to have originated with the ancient Romans, were initially intended to catch the attention of a predominantly illiterate public by offering visual, rather than verbal, messages. Bold and self-explanatory, an oversize cutler's knife or a giant locksmith's key could be "read" instantly by any potential customer - even one passing by quickly on horseback or carriage.

Most trade symbols were commissioned by business owners from hand craftsmen. Those carved from wood were generally made by the same workshops that produced ship carvings and shop figures. Metal trade symbols were produced by smiths working in tin, iron, and copper, and beginning in the mid-19th century, metal trade symbols were manufactured in factories that specialized in ornamental cast iron and zinc. Tradesman wanting to advertise their particular talents also craft signs for themselves; it was only natural, for instance, for a farrier to hammer out an enormous horseshoe that he could hang outside his own forge.

Trading Posts

     Built for commercial reasons and not military, most of the trading posts were built on waterways in order to export their pelts and furs down river and to bring up by boat their supplies and trade goods for the Indians and  trappers.  Many were built like forts in fear of Indian Hostilities

     As early as 1662, trading post records have it that ten pounds of tobacco was traded for furs for a hat.   The Dutch, French and British, all used this method of establishing a trading post or factory as they were sometimes called.   The trading posts then trading beads, trinkets, knives, blankets, guns and other necessities to the fur trappers and Indians for furs

     Thus emerged the trade blanket, the most famous being the Hudson Bay's version, and the trade gun, known as the Northwest Gun, both manufactured for the sole purpose of  trading post exchange goods exchanged for furs

     The American Fur Company owned by John Jacob Astor brought this system of commerce out West.   The headquarters trading post was located on the Minnesota River across from Fort Snelling but it was not long before he had trading posts in Oregon and in Wyoming close to Fort Laramie

     Interesting to note was that the Rocky Mountain Fur Company chose not to use trading posts but utilized the notorious rendezvous in order to trade with the mountain men, fur trappers and Indians

     St. Louis started out as a lowly trading post and flourished into the fur trading capital. The Bent's Fort Trading Post built by Bent and St. Vrain Fur Company was a trading post located near what is now La Junta, Colorado.    Fort Bridger Trading Post was built by Jim Bridger as a trading post for the settlers and pioneers as they traveled the overland trail

     Many times the trading post was only comprised of  broken down cabins.  To the travelers it was a welcome sight for repairing wagons, getting a hot meal and trading for fresh livestock before making their mountainous journey that laid ahead. Their destiny unknown with visions of a new prosperous life in Oregon or California  

7752 Fall creek Drive

Indianapolis, Indiana 46236

(317) 493-8583

To contact us for a quote, to talk about a statue idea or any other questions,
click on the email picture, or just click here

History of Western Indian Statues and Cigar Store Indians by Chie Kramer.

Wooden Indians statues carved from quality hard wood and shipped from our Old World Statue Shop in Indianapolis, Indiana at the sculpting studio at Fall Creek Gallery. Wooden Indians statue's price range from $150 dollars to $300 dollars a foot. Price is determined by statue size and design. Statues can be picked up at our Indianapolis gallery or shipped via uShip shipping service to your home or office. Two of Indiana's finest wood sculptors are located in the heart of Indiana, in Indianapolis. Hand Carved Wooden Indians for the collector of classical side walk art, cigar figures and folk art.