Monday, May 21, 2007

Great-Grampa’s bearskin rug – Part 3

Providing provenance


Perhaps you’ve followed the saga of Great-grampa Glen’s black bear and Ol’ Myrt’s attempts to explain it to her grandchildren. If not, play catch up by reading:

This has spilled over into additional articles about citing sources:

Today’s blog concerns a term we hear discussed when viewing the Antiques Roadshow on local PBS stations. Items are considered more valuable when there is evidence of its history of ownership. It would seem like the second definition of provenance from American Heritage really describes what Roadshow is going for in the way of documentation and history.


  1. A place of origin; derivation.
  2. a. The history of ownership of an object, especially when documented or authenticated. Used of artwork, antiques, books.

    b. The records or documents authenticating such an object or the history of its ownership.

    See: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. (accessed: May 21, 2007).

On other TV shows, including CSI and Law & Order, forensic scientists and police investigators are concerned about maintaining a chain of evidence. Of course, those TV programs seem real because they espouse some basic principles of real-life criminal investigations.

When it comes to genealogical investigations – proving our point with concrete (not hearsay) evidence is just as important. So today, Ol’ Myrt would like to introduce the following document into evidence proving a few points about Great-grampa Glen’s bearskin rug, namely the Evergreen Taxidermy Company’s invoice #6339 dated 24 Dec 1976 for Dr. Glen Player, including his address, with no zip code. Guess that was a while back, eh?

Now, we have a little clarity as to ownership, and the time period, including the description of the black bear hide that Ol’ Myrt is preparing to discuss with her grandchildren.

Glen's receipt from Evergreen Taxidermy.

I am wondering if the customer’s code on the invoice is really the date Dad dropped the item off for work (0421 might be April 21st) since I doubt Dad had a purchase order through his medical practice for the making of the rug. OK, no point in speculating.

The bearskin rug, the photo of Dad just after the shoot, and the invoice from the taxidermist might lead one to believe this rug is truly identified. But is this enough? What other things might Ol’ Myrt add to the mix?

Great-Grampa Glen's bear, photo & taxidermy receipt.

Stay tuned for more info on how Ol’ Myrt is carefully documenting this family heirloom.

All this talk of bear hunting makes me glad I am not related to Teddy Roosevelt. His hunting is reflected in the decorative layout of his hallway at Sagamore Hills . Documenting those trophies would keep me busy for most of the century. Both my Dad and Teddy (if I can use the familiar term) were really more interested in birds than in game hunting. I recently ran across my Dad’s handbook of North American birds, where he crossed each one off and entered the date as he spotted them in his travels. – But as usual, I digress.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

(c) 2007 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

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