Extremely rare and highly-sought after ink signature, “Sitting Bull,” on the reverse of an off-white 3.5 x 2.25 business card of noted Native American photographer D. F. Barry. Front of the card bears a notation by Barry which reads, “June 12th 1889, Written at Grand River, his home, South Dak., D. F. Barry.” Also accompanied by a 2013 letter of authenticity from Sitting Bull’s great-grandson, Ernie Lapointe, with images of Lapointe and Sitting Bull which reads, in part: “I, Ernie Lapointe am the great-grandson of the famed Lakota Chief, Sitting Bull…This business card is one that has been signed by my Great-Grandfather Sitting Bull and the noted Native American photographer D. F. Barry.” Additionally, a color copy of a letter from Barry sending the signature to H. M. Brown, is included, which reads, in part: “Please find Sitting Bull autograph. This was written on 12th of June 1889…Sitting Bull was sick…when he wrote this.” In very good condition, with scattered toning from old tape to both sides, lightly affecting the tops of a few letters, soiling over portion of last name, not affecting legibility, and some other scattered mild toning and soiling, and slight surface loss at bottom.
David Francis Barry was an accomplished photographer of Native American portraits, especially known for his iconic images of chiefs and other figures of the utmost historical importance. Despite the historically tenuous relationship between the Sioux and whites, Barry was able secure sittings with their warriors and leaders throughout the 1870s, even as they fought against General Custer on the battlefield. Whites called Barry the ‘Sioux Charmer’ because of his ability to ingratiate himself with their tribes, while the Native Americans knew him as ‘Little Shadow Catcher,’ because of his diminutive stature and ability to ‘catch’ images and commit them to paper. What is most remarkable about this piece, however, is the additional provenance provided by the chief’s great-grandson. Lapointe descends from a long line of chiefs—Sitting Bull on his mother’s side—and has spoken on various television programs and published a biography of his great-grandfather. With this outstanding familial history and association with Barry, this is a fabulous example of arguably the most sought-after of all Western and Native American signatures. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.