Spanish Playing Cards, late 1800s This deck of Spanish playing cards was donated to the New Mexico History Museum by Josefita Manderfield Otero.
Originally of Chinese origin, playing cards were adopted in Mamluk Egypt by the 14th century and then spread to the Iberian Peninsula in the latter part of that century. By 1380 naipero (card-maker), was a recognized profession. The four suits are bastos (clubs), oros (gold coins), copas (cups), and espadas (swords). Spanish suited cards are used in Spain, Southern Italy, France, Latin America, North Africa and the Philippines. Unlike the suits found in Northern Italy, the swords on Spanish cards are straight, and the clubs are knotty instead of being depicted as ceremonial batons. Several of the cards from this deck can be seen in the History Museum’s exhibition, Telling New Mexico.
Shave permit pins from the Teddy Roosevelt Centennial celebrations in Las Vegas, NM (1958), and a shave permit from the Clovis, NM 50th anniversary celebration, 1957. Shaving permit pins such as these were sold as a way to raise money for centennial or anniversary celebrations in many towns across the country. As part of the fundraising effort, citizens could register for a beard-growing contest. If someone did not want to participate in the contest, they could purchase a “shave permit.” This jokingly gave one “permission to shave.” The proceeds from the sale of the permits and registration fees for the contests were put towards the town’s celebration fund. Why a beard-growing contest? Often, the Brothers of the Brush would spearhead the fundraising efforts. This organization got its name because they sought to emulate the towns’ founders. Many of the towns were founded in the Victorian period when beards and mustaches were in vogue. The Brothers of the Brush decided to capitalize on this look and encouraged beard-growing as a way to raise money. NMHM/DCA 11501.45 and 2014.53.159
A 19th century measuring box known as a media fanega (or a half fanega). It is made of milled pine and enforced with metal strips, and has a leather handle. A fanega was an old Spanish unit of measurement usually used to measure grains. The measure varied from region to region in the Spanish-speaking Americas. This object is just one of approximately 16,000 objects in the history museum’s collections. These objects are not just used for exhibit, but are often used for research.
Recently, a scholar studying the different Spanish units of measurement requested dimensions of several of these measuring units. From these internal dimensions, he calculated this media fanega at 2,428.3 cubic inches. His research calculates that an official standard set by the 1852 New Mexico territorial legislature for the unit measurement of the media fanega was 2,476.25 cubic inches. Thus, he determined that of all the media fanegas in the museum’s collection from that time period, this media fanega was the closest to that official measurement.
The collections staff thanks all the scholars and researchers who continue to provide extended knowledge to our object records.
San Ignacio de Loyola retablo by José Aragón, ca. 1820-1835. San Ignacio de Loyola / St. Ignatius of Loyola (Oct 23, 1491-July 31,1556) was part of a noble Basque family who underwent a spiritual conversion following a military campaign where he was severely injured. This experience led him to write the Spiritual Exercises as a path for seeking the will of God. San Ignacio co-founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1540, and spent the rest of his life promoting missionization and education.
José Aragón, a well-known santero (maker of Nuevomexicano Catholic objects) active in the Mexican period of New Mexico’s history, produced retablos (paintings on panel) and bultos (carved wooden sculptures) in and around the Santa Fe area. His depiction of San Ignacio shows the saint in a typical pose, holding what is presumably the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus with the order’s Christogram on the front.
This retablo is part of the Larry and Alyce Frank Collection of over two hundred retablos, bultos, and cristos (crucifixes) that the couple collected for nearly forty years throughout northern New Mexico. Regular visitors to the museum will remember seeing the Frank Collection in Tesoros de Devoción, a beloved exhibition in the Palace of the Governors that celebrated the work of Nuevomexicano santeros and their santos.
1940 Harley-Davidson owned by Francis H. Harlow (22 January 1928 – 1 July 2016)( The Library of Congress’s listing on Francis H Harlow.) , an American theoretical physicist and researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico. Harlow was also a noted expert on Pueblo pottery of the Southwest, publishing in this field as well as in physics. In fact, Harlow traded one of his favorite Pueblo pottery jars for this 1940 Harley Davidson and was known to ride it to nearby Pueblos in search of pottery. He donated his extensive collection of Pueblo pottery to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture several years before his death. In 2016, Harlow’s autobiography was published in the collection Adventures in Physics and Pueblo Pottery: Memoirs of a Los Alamos Scientist.
Kunitaro Takeuchi (1887–1972) was a Japanese native who migrated to Hawai’i in his early twenties, right around the turn of the century where he married his wife Hana, had a family, and worked as a photographer. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, signed on 19 February 1942, authorized the apprehension and incarceration of people believed to be conspirators and sympathizers to the Axis powers during World War II. This order primarily targeted people of Japanese, Italian, and German descent, many of them being US citizens. In May 1942, the Takeuchi family was forced out of Hawai’i as “Group 3” of Nisei and Issei (first- and second-generation Japanese Americans) identified for holding at internment camps. Kunitaro Takeuchi, then in his mid-fifties, was imprisoned at the Santa Fe Internment Camp for the duration of the war. The 80-acre Department of Justice camp, where St. Francis Drive and West Alameda Street are now located, held 4555 men and operated from 1942-1946, nearly a year after the war was over.
There, Kunitaro Takeuchi carved these pieces, among many others, and collected cigar boxes full of rocks from the camp area. He received many rocks as gifts from others at the camp as well. The New Mexico History Museum is honored to care for these pieces of history that remind us about the sacrifices Japanese Americans made during this period of unjust persecution in our national history.
Did you know? The New Mexico History Museum has seventy saddles in our collection that range from the 17th through the 20th century. Some of them were pack saddles meant to carry heavy loads, while some of them were made for show. We have saddles made in the colonial Mexican tradition, some made by Native people, and some created by well-known saddle makers, such as this one by Austin “Slim” Green (1916-2008).
This hand-tooled leather stock saddle was made in the 1970s
Egan of the Rancho Encantado (previously Rancho del Monte) area near Santa Fe.
Originally from Oklahoma, Slim
Green moved to northern New Mexico following World War II and further refined
his talents working with leather. Slim Green was a co-founder of the Rodeo de
Santa Fe, taught Tesuque elementary kids leather craft, and produced
custom-made saddles for people all over the country. We’re lucky to have one of
This Mescalero Apache beaded hide awl case, ca. 1880, was used to store the bone awl. The awl was used as a tool to weave basketry, and or sew glass trade beads on hide. It was owned by the Southwest photographer, Ben Wittick, who used objects such as this one, as props in his studio where he photographed Native Americans in the late 19th century. Visit this artifact at the New Mexico History Museum’s exhibition Looking Back, when it reopens to the public and in the meantime, stay safe.
What are you wearing these days? With social distancing in progress, most of us are working from home in our sweatpants or other athleisure wear. Take a look at what a Victorian lady may have worn when at home during the day. This 1870s dress has a taffeta bodice and skirt ensemble lined with crinoline underneath to give it fullness. This dress is typical of the period with layers of ruffles, pleats and gathers.