“Drums Along The Mohawk”

When I first encountered this installment’s Exonumia Corner item, the words that immediately popped to mind were "Drums Along The Mohawk," a classic 1939 black and white movie starring Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert, based on the novel of the same name by Walter D. Edmonds. The movie was a childhood favorite of mine in the 1950s, and nearly every time it came on television—depending, of course, on whether the weather was good enough to play outside—I would sit cross-legged on the living room floor and watch the adventure unfold. Indians attacking Mohawk Valley settlers, the local fort under heavy siege and in dire straights, and the hero to the rescue…those were the days.

The Bakelite “Mohawk” featured this week is about 2” high and 1¾” wide. It is made of dark brown Bakelite, a plastic-like material that was popular in the 1930s and 1940s. Appliance plugs, light switch plates, and numerous other items were made of Bakelite before the plastics revolution began. My Native American friend has a 1911 Liberty nickel at its center, and judging by the wear on both the coin and the host, my guess is the Bakelite Mohawk and the coin are contemporary to 1911. There is also a Bakelite amber tassel that hangs from the top of the Mohawk. The obverse of the Bakelite Indian has an eye and hairlines scratched in, and below the coin is a fanciful engraving that shows crossed spears with a “T” in the upper section, and an “E” in the lower section. There is a tiny tomahawk to the right of the crossed spears, and three feathers hang down on the leftmost spear. The 1911 Liberty nickel is Good to VG overall, and as noted, if I had to grade the Mohawk host, I’d give it a similar grade. I have no idea what this unusual piece was originally for—a club such as Woodmen of the World or some other origin? All I know for certain is that it’s an enjoyable part of my exonumia. I’ve never seen another!

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