High Noon logo
December 2010 - Vol 2, Issue 12
In This Issue
Feature Story: The (He)art of a Collector - Born or Bred?
Featured Photo: Pictorial View of Western Americana....Featuring Nadine Levin
Linda's Feed Bag: Molassas Candy: Two Versions - 1800s and 2010
Dealer Spotlight: Brian Lebel...The New Englander Turned Cowboy
Our Inner Cowgirl: Share Cameron...American Indian Artist Advocate...and Aficionado Extraordinaire
Expressions: Sioux Bowcase - Quiver
Roaming Range Reporter: How the Settlers of the Wild West Celebrated Christmas
and Furthermore...Cowboy Poetry by Russell Petter
Upcoming Events: Don't miss these upcoming Western and Native American events
Feature Story

Photo of Carl Robertson, collectorThe (He)art of a Collector - Born or Bred?

By Linda Kohn Sherwood
Smoke Signals Editor

I sat down to lunch with one of our cherished collectors, Carl Robertson. He and his wife Sue Robertson have a beautiful Los Angeles home filled with creative objects, reflecting their integrated, exceptional taste. They have world-class collections of 17-18th century American furniture, Western Americana, art, textiles, among others, all set in a physical space that amplifies the beauty of each piece.

I wanted to learn what makes Carl's collecting gene work so well. And the answer is - he has it in his blood. Growing up north of Chicago, eventually moving out to a farm community in the 1940s, Carl purchased his first piece at the age of 15 at an old farm in Wisconsin. No, not trading cards. Not toy horses. But a drop-leaf dining room table! He bought it he said, because it had the original finish. Did he have a place of his own at that age to use or store it? No, of course not. But he had to have it. Did he purchase it to make money? No, he answers, great collectors love the objects first, and the possibility of making money with them is low on the list.

Featured Photo by Nadine Levin - Snow Angels

Nadine Levin photo of a horse on its back rolling in the snow
Nadine grew up in Washington, DC. Riding horses into her teens, Nadine preferred watching Westerns to playing with dolls. She has always loved taking photos and studying photography, and once her children were grown, she jumped in full-time. She finds beauty in nature and in the animals that share her world, and Nadine offers us this beauty for December.


Holiday Greetings!

Cowboy Santa and everyone at High Noon wishes you happy holidays

Did You Know?

1. A Christmas Club, a savings account in which a person deposits a fixed amount of money regularly to be used at Christmas for shopping, came about around 1905.

2. America's official national Christmas tree is located in King's Canyon National Park in California. The tree, a giant sequoia called the "General Grant Tree," is over 300 feet (90 meters) high. It was made the official Christmas tree in 1925.

3. Franklin Pierce was the first United States' president to decorate an official White House Christmas tree.

If you have some interesting tidbits that you would like to share, send them to SmokeSignals@highnoon.com

Social Media News

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High Noon Auction Catalogs

High Noon Auction Catalog 2011 Mesa, AZ
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Linda's Feed Bag
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Cowboy Christmas
Old and New...

Molasses Candy

Even for the Western Settlers in the 1800s, Christmas meant small but savored treats. Here's one simple recipe that made one family's Christmas just a little bit sweeter.

Cartoon of Holiday BakingMolasses Candy (1800s version in the Wild West)

1 cup molasses
3 cups sugar
2 pans of clean snow

Boil molasses and sugar together until they form a thick syrup. Pour streams of thick syrup into pans of snow and stir. Spoon out balls of candy and let them rest until hardened.

Molasses Candy
(2010 version)

1 cup molasses
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp cream of tarter

Mix sugar and cream of tarter together. Add molasses and water. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Boil without stirring until it hardens in cold water. Turn onto buttered pan: when cool, work and cut into sticks.


Help us "Put on the Feed Bag!" Appetize us with your favorite cowboy cuisine. Send us a recipe or culinary creation - keeping the traditions of the American West alive is about the great food too! From ribs to rhubarb, campfire food to a great bowl of chili - we Wild West epicureans want to know.
Submissions welcome at SmokeSignals@highnoon.com.

High Noon Auction News

Don't miss the High Noon Show and Auction

Recommended Reading

Book Cover: Alias Soapy SmithAlias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel-
The Biography of Jefferson Randolph
Smith II

by Jeff Smith
(Great-grandson of Soapy Smith)

My god, don't Shoot! These last words spoken by Jefferson Randolph Soapy Smith II ended a career in crime spanning over twenty years, from 1877 to 1898, and all the Western states from Colorado to California and from Texas to Alaska.

Jefferson Randolph Soapy Smith II  (1860-1898) was an American, 19th-century confidence man, gambler, and crime boss par excellence - perhaps the most accomplished street hawker and all-around bunco artist of his day. Wherever he set up his tripe & keister (tripod and suitcase), which held the implements of his nefarious trade, he was certain to draw a large crowd and succeed in molding it to his will. A colorful and complex character of the Old West, he became a ruler of rogues and vagabonds, a friend of the friendless, a protector of criminals, and a contributor to churches. He devoted his God-given talents and abilities to the pursuit of the fast buck by employing every swindling scheme then known to man. He pretended righteousness as he leveraged to his advantage the greed of his fellow man, who himself awaited the opportunity to cheat him. He accomplished his dominance by eliminating chance from his games. In turn, he emptied the pockets of his victims and bluffed them into silence and submission. A favorite saying of his was, Do unto others what they'd like to do to you, but do it first.

Author Jeff Smith's quest to uncover the true details of his great-grandfather's life began in 1985. Jeff wants the reader to understand that although he is related to the subject of his book, he does not pretend to believe Soapy was a good guy or someone to be admired. Jeff dedicated his book to his children...in the hope it inspires them to always seek the truth, even when the truth is not very nice.

1st Edition - 628 pages

Collector News

Illustration of High Noon PediaCheck out the
High Noon-Pedia

Did you know that High Noon has a very comprehensive RESOURCE DATABASE of the ARTISTS and CRAFTSMEN who have been featured in our auctions? And they can be found on our website FREE for EVERYONE to use? It features brief BIOGRAPHIES and TIDBITS of information about these talented and important individuals and companies. It's our version of "Western Wikipedia"!

And, in the style of Wikipedia, this is EVERYONE'S database! We want to know of any corrections, additions or deletions that need to be made. It's a High Noon family effort and we welcome your input!

Email us and we'll even give you credit for your submission if you want!

Check it out:  www.highnoon.com/hnartistbios.htm
Email us:   smokesignals@highnoon.com

Dealer Spotlight

Photo of Brian Lebel on his horse on Mt. BaldyBrian Lebel

The New Englander Turned Cowboy

So, when asked how a young man born and raised in Massachusetts ends up, first in Cody, WY then in Denver, CO as a show and auction promoter..."Ever since I was six years old I wanted to move to Wyoming and be a cowboy," was Brian Lebel's response. Was your family an influence? Was your dad into the West? "No, not at all. Quite the contrary actually," he furthered. So, all we can assume is Brian Lebel was "to the West born" and here today he thrives and lives the life he loves. And, he made his dream at 6 years old a reality. Let's take a look at how this all happened.

It all started with guns and a generation of family employed by Smith & Wesson in Springfield, MA. So, in family tradition, Brian, just after graduating high school, went to work there as a fitter. On the side, he started doing gun shows in 1972, dealing in both contemporary and antique guns with a particular affection for Winchester Lever Actions. He also began to collect antiques with a keen interest in advertising. Juggling his full-time job, he managed to set-up at 30 shows a year where he began to meet people who would become his life-long friends and colleagues. "In those days, there were only two Western shows in the country, one in Loveland (CO) and one in Amarillo (TX). So, if you wanted to buy and sell Western antiques, your choices were the gun shows or general antique shows."

But it was Brian's passion for Winchester guns that would end up fulfilling his boyhood dream. He attended a Winchester Gun show in Cody (WY) in 1981 and fell in love with the town. He returned to Springfield, gave two weeks notice to Smith & Wesson, packed up and moved across the country to Cody, WY. He landed a job as a ranch hand doing everything from running horses to guiding groups in the mountains. "It's not as glamorous as it sounds, that's for sure," was his comment on that career move. But he lived his cowboy dream for a couple of years until he married and knew he needed a more serious and stable way to earn a living. So, in 1987, he opened Old West Antiques in Cody, WY, a gallery and store that thrived until 2003 when he moved to Scottsdale (AZ).

It was just about that time, 1990 to be specific, that is he started the first Cody Old West Show and Auction. At first, he thought it would be a great way to get all of his friends and colleagues who he hadn't seen in a long time up to Cody. The doors opened to the first Cody Old West Show 21 years ago to 35 dealers. "The show was so small at the beginning, that in the evening for the auction, we had to move all the dealer tables out and move chairs in for the auction. When it was over, we moved all the tables back," he recalls with a smile. That's a far cry from the scene now, walking into his Denver Old West Show and Auction at the Merchandise Mart. While Brian's passion and commitment to ensure the rich legacy of the West continues to thrive, there's certainly more than 235 dealers at his show and he doesn't have to move tables around anymore.

Yes, the Denver Old West Show and Auction is world class, but for Brian, it's always been and still is about the people who share his goals and dreams. It's about the relationships he's developed over the years, the sharing of knowledge and the quest to never stop learning and promoting our Western heritage for generations to come. It's the mutual support and friendships that he treasures, and he feels so lucky to be able to share these common goals and dreams. And speaking of generations to come, there are another couple of generations of Lebels behind the scenes. Brian is grandfather to 5, ranging in ages from 5 to 12. When asked if they're into the Cowboy and Western thing? "Well no, not really." Sometimes Brian can be a man of few words. But as we know, sometimes less is more and those rivers run very deep.

Today, Brian shares his life with Melissa McCracken, an absolute dynamo in her own right. As the saying goes, "behind every happy man is a..." and in this case, it's Melissa - and we at High Noon think she is as great as he does.

Anyone with roots in the East Coast, New England in particular, know that people generally don't leave, much less to become cowboys in the West. For Brian, his roots still go back there, his family is still there, a mom whom he treasures and the lobsters that he still yearns for. But Brian has swapped his New England roots and set them down, deeply, in the West. And we are grateful he has done so!

Brian Lebel

,Our Inner Cowgirl

Photo of Share CameronShare Cameron
American Indian Artist Advocate
and Aficionado Extraordinaire

When Share Cameron walks into a room, you know she has arrived. Her elegance, grace and passion for who she is and what she does, fills the room with energy. Always dressed to the nines in classic rich, Santa Fe style, she not only walks the walk but she talks the talk about her mission in life - to promote and support the incredible art and design being created by Native Americans.

Not necessarily a dream you would expect from a girl born and raised in Toronto, yet her life unfolded in a journey that would lead her into discovering the riches of the American Indian culture and designs. It was the Northridge Earthquake in Los Angeles that would change her life. Landing in L A for a number of years where she obtained her degree in massage therapy and had a thriving practice in Shiatsu and Reiki, the 1994 big rumbler found her body injured and her possessions mostly broken. That was it. She packed up what she had left and moved to Santa Fe. Needing a job, she began working at Packard's on the Plaza where she began to study and learn the depth and beauty of what the Native American artists were creating. She met and was embraced by the finest jewelers, kachina carvers, and weavers and their passion traveled deep into her soul.

And then, like kismet, the man who would become her life partner and husband walked through the door. Yes, it was world famous Native American silversmith Gibson Nez who would steal her heart and take her on a journey, crisscrossing the country doing exhibitions and shows, from New York to Las Vegas. She was always at his side and became his biggest advocate. But something else was happening along the way. Share was developing the deepest understanding of who these people were and the art they created. She was also able to see first hand, that Native Americans are continually challenged in the areas of self-promotion and cultural assimilation.

As her life journey continued, Gibson passed away and Share found herself needing space to recover and regroup her life. She returned back to Los Angeles with the goal of returning to her previous life of healing, her massage therapy career. In a very short time however, she realized something was missing and felt like a fish out of water. She missed Santa Fe and the inspiration of rich art culture. Sometimes though, you have to leave to discover what it is you truly want. It's been her recent time in Los Angeles where she has re-discovered what her true passion is - promoting and supporting the finest Native American artists and designers, taking them to markets and worlds they might not get to on their own. She wants the world to see, know and appreciate the beauty of their work as truly world class. And, to this end, Share knows Santa Fe is her true home and she will be returning there in spring.

High Noon is extremely honored to support Share Cameron's mission to do just this. Educating people and exposing them to this amazing work is what will ensure that the richness of the Native American cultures will continue to be woven into everyone's lives and thrive for centuries to come.

Share has created an online portal to do just this. Share, The Inner Sanctuary is where you will find the resources for, and work of the best American Indian artists. But Share is more than just a website. She's out there, face-to-face, at shows, museum exhibitions and more, promoting these amazing people.

Again, like Kismet, while in Los Angeles, Share connected with and has become an integral team member of the DesignAmerica Foundation, an organization committed solely to the promotion of America's truly independent artists and designers.

Share Cameron - one dedicated diva determined to take Native American design to the top of the charts.

Share Cameron


Sioux Bowease-QuiverSioux Bowcase - Quiver

By Benson L. Lanford

As for most material culture objects, American Indians perhaps unconsciously often considered any given object as a tabula rasa - plain and awaiting decoration. No doubt the majority of things made for their own use remained unadorned and essentially utilitarian in nature. However, Indian people readily converted an amazing number of object types into virtual objects d'art. Such objects include-perhaps unexpectedly, household articles, tools and utensils, all types of clothing, and weapons. An important consideration is the fact that in addition to the way objects are constructed or tailored, along with the component materials, are as significant for tribal recognition as are the elaborative techniques, colors, and especially the specific designs or motifs the maker-artists select. The type of materials employed depends in part on the range of things available in the locale - or on trade with the outside, be it with other Indian groups or with Euro-Americans. The preparation of the component materials depends on the knowledge and skill of the person at work - and these being preceded by countless generations of experience on part of one's people. The structure of objects conforms to tribal tradition and taste; likewise, the component materials themselves, and manner of and the designs used in the ornamentation. All of these features combine so that a given object makes a statement of who I am / who we are - whether tribe, band, clan, society, family, or individual.

This bowcase-quiver set from the Western Sioux or Lakota (as the people term themselves) serves as a classic example of the unanticipated adornment of objects. Native materials as well as things obtained in trade merge in the finished product. Native-tanned leather (in this case likely domestic cow hide), porcupine quills colored with aniline dyes, sinew, commercial thread, and perhaps most importantly - glass seed beads from Europe. As well metal awls and needles were undoubtedly used in the construction and decoration of the set. The bow is wholly the product of native materials, but the arrows are a combination-native shafts and feathers, and sinew binding the arrow points of introduced metal. 

The narrow lanes of porcupine quillwork conform to a common Sioux approach to the medium, with red as the prevalent color choice. It is understood that the use of parallel lines in this manner symbolizes the ways of living in traditional Indian manner - the Red Road, if you will. This configuration of quilled lines was applied to various things, including moccasins, tobacco bags, storage bags of tanned hide, and buffalo robes. The lanestitch beadwork technique employed on this set derives from that used in the quillwork. The hourglass motifs are composites of the tipi (tent) design. They can be viewed as representing the village or tiospaye, the locus wherein a person or the owner-warrior of the bowcase-quiver set lived, and that he had pledged to defend. The beadwork colors are likewise typical for Lakota beadwork; the medium light blue background was especially favored by the more northerly Western Sioux groups located on the Standing Rock and Fort Peck Reservations in North Dakota and Montana, respectively.

This bowcase will be offered January 29th at the High Noon Western Americana auction in Mesa, AZ.

Roaming Range Reporter
How the Settlers of the Wild West
Celebrated Christmas

In the 1800s, the Western settlers had to learn to celebrate Yuletide without all the elaborate trappings of the holiday they may have known Back East for they did not exist here in the great void of the American frontier. Taking from nature what they could, they made the best Christmas possible using the day for much needed respites and spending time with neighbors if they could, focusing on their optimism for the future. In one account from 1836 Colorado, only two neighbors shared Christmas together but they danced the night away.

As hunting was necessary for survival, some new Yuletide traditions developed such as competitive sporting events Bill of faretesting marksmanship skills. Meals were simple with feasts of wild game (rabbit and buffalo), many times they became the "prize" of such activities. Home brewed alcohol probably added to the festive atmosphere. Eastern style decorations were creatively replaced with local natural vegetation, fashioned from the land.

Often faced with blizzard conditions and bitter cold, in the spirit of their tenacity and fortitude which took them to the great West, Christmas celebrations were often very simple and sometimes just another day of averting starvation.
Gifts were fashioned from the land and usually comprised of necessities.

Taking a look back to the Western Settler's Christmas, perhaps it's a good reminder that it's not about all the glitz and the gifts, but about the people you share your life and dreams with - a time to appreciate what we have. From all of us, we would like to wish all of you, our High Noon family, the most wonderful of holidays. You are important to us and we wouldn't have it any other way.

For a bit of humor, here is a reprint of the Bill of Fare for Christmas Day, 1848, as served at Camp Desolation, Colorado.

For aPhoto of Verrier Christmas Ornaments plus a favorite look at some
of the wonderful
Christmas ornaments
and decorations inspired
by these times of yore,
we turn to our own
Theresa and Danny Verrier,
whose house and tree
reflect this holiday spirit.

Photo: A selection of glass
antique ornaments that
deck out Danny and
Theresa's tree, plus
one of their favorites.

and Furthermore...

This month we present cowboy poetry by Russell Petter, The Keywest Kowboy...

Was it just my imagination,...
or was it my wishful anticipation,...
When I looked out from the front porch tonight,...
I am sure,..that I saw a white dually truck drive by,...
Was it my imagination,...
or was it my wishful anticipation,...
Tonight at the rodeo,..
I looked out from behind the bucking chutes,...
I am sure,.... that I saw you there,...
watching from the box seats,...
waiting in anticipation of my next ride.
Was it my imagination,...
or was it my wishful anticipation,...
as I took ahold of the rein,..
and begain to spur my bronc,...
I am so sure...that I saw you there,...
At the rodeo dance,...
I spun a pretty girl around,..
and when I did,..
I saw your pretty face in  the front row,..
of the rodeo crowd,..
Was it my imagination,..
or was it wishful anticipation,...
Guess I will never know,...
since you left with him,...
and I left the dance all alone.
Was it my imagination,..
or was it wishful anticipation,...
Went to the round pen today,..
just me and a colt,....
thought I saw you from the distance,...
watching and waiting,...
as the colt broke into a lope.
Was it my imagination,..
or was it wishful aniticpation,...
Just won the championship of the world,...
cannot believe that I could do it by myself,...
just a good horse to ride,...and a judges good score,...
Was it my imagination,...
or was it wishful aniticipation,...
when I thought I saw you from the distance,...
watching and waiting,...
from the front row as I received the Gold Buckle.
Was it my imagination,...
or was it wishful anticipation.
Or maybe my eyes or not so good,...
But,...was it my imagination,...
or was it wishful anticipation,...
as I saw you from the distance,...
watching and waiting,!!!!

Russell Petter
The Keywest Kowboy

Russell grew up in a small town, Robinson, Texas, and got married and moved to an even smaller town, McGregor, Texas, where he lived for over 20 years. Years later, a new neighbor moved in next door (15 minutes away), President George W. Bush who decided to buy a ranch in Crawford, Texas. Russell started writing about 20 years ago, just for fun. His writing is an expression of what he knows, what he doesn't know, and what he still wants to know.

Upcoming Events
NOW thru January 9, 2011  21st Century Regionalists: The Art of the Next West  Rockwell Museum of Western Art, Corning, NY
December 18, 2010  Native American Community Drumming Circle  Indianapolis, IN
December 28-January 1, 2011 
60th Annual Arizona National Stock Show/Cowboy Classics  Phoenix, AZ
January 21-22, 2011 
22nd Annual Colorado Cowboy Gathering  Denver, CO
January 24-29, 2011 
National Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Elko, NV
January 29-30, 2011
  High Noon 3-Day Western Americana Event  Mesa, AZ
February 3-6, 2011  3rd Annual Texas Crossroads Cowboy Gathering  Van Horn, TX
February 3-20, 2011 
San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo  San Antonio, TX
February 10-13, 2011 
63rd Annual Gold Rush Days  Wickenburg, AZ
February 15-18, 2011 
(TCAA) Steel Engraving for Bit & Spur Makers Workshop  Oklahoma City, OK
February 18-20, 2011 
Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering  Ellensburg, WA
February 19-27, 2011 
La Fiesta de los Vaqueros Rodeo  Tucson, AZ
February 24-27, 2011 
Saddle UP!  Pigeon Forge, TN
February 25-27, 2011 
25th Annual Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering  Alpine, TX
March 10-13, 2011 
8th Annual Southeastern Cowboy Gathering  Cartersville, GA
March 19-20, 2011 
The Golden California Show  Glendale, CA
March 24-27, 2011 
Palm Springs WestFest & Rodeo  Palm Springs, CA
April 27-May 1, 2011 
Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival  Santa Clarita, CA
April 28-30, 2011 
Gathering of Nations Pow Wow  Albuquerque, NM
May 6-8, 2011 
DesignAmerica-Texas  Grapevine, TX
June 24-26, 2011
  Brian Lebel's Old West Show & Auction  Denver, CO
September 20-23, 2011 
Bit Making: Form & Function Workshop (TCAA)  Oklahoma City, OK

Send event submissions to SmokeSignals@highnoon.com

Don't Fret About the Future - Invest in the Past!

High Noon Western Americana
PH 310.202.9010  |  FAX 310.202.9011
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Smoke Signals is for and about all of the wonderful people in our High Noon family. If you have news you want to share, hot tips on what's going on in the Western Americana world or just a suggestion of something you'd like to see us cover, send us an email at smokesignals@highnoon.com


Chief Publisher: High Noon Western Americana
Chief Editor: Linda Kohn Sherwood
Chief Art Director: Robin Ireland, Ireland Graphic Design
Chief Graphic Designer: Curtis Hill, Art Direction Services
Chief Writer: Jayne Skeff, JSLA Media Solutions