Originally featured in Points West magazine in Winter 2010
William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s gauntlets
The Buffalo Bill Museum is fortunate to have many articles of clothing that belonged to William F. Cody. The collection seems to be equally divided between his “civilian” clothes and those he wore while performing, either with the Buffalo Bill Combination stage plays or with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. His performance clothes—naturally the most colorful—enhanced his “Buffalo Bill” persona. These gauntlets are wonderful examples of the type he wore and date from about 1900. The beadwork is similar to that found on other pieces of Cody’s show clothes.
While the gauntlets are made from commercially tanned leather and machine stitched, the beadwork may have been done by Native American women. We know that Buffalo Bill paid Sioux women to add beadwork to his clothes, particularly jackets and gauntlets, because there are receipts for such payments in the archives of the McCracken Research Library. As entire Sioux families traveled with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, the women were available to do the beadwork. The designs depicted might have been chosen by Buffalo Bill, or by the person doing the beadwork.
Gauntlets. Mary Jester Allen Collection. 1.69.1049