For an animal which has been long-glorified as an iconic American symbol, the bison has endured some pretty shabby treatment. At the founding of the country, as many as 100 million of the shaggy beasts roamed the wilderness. By the 1980's, only 1000 bison remained. And, yet, the bison has always been a potent symbol of American "rugged individuality." Luckily, the modern population is creeping upwards.
First: the name. The American creature is a bison, not a buffalo. Buffalos are from Asia and Africa; Bison are from Europe and the Americas. Buffalo horns are longer and grow like a "handlebar mustache" (starting as a fat, flat "helmet" and curving as they grow outwards). Bison horns are shorter, sharper and grow more upwards (like the horns on a Viking helmet). And bison have bigger humps and bigger heads than their buffalo counterparts—as well as beards and thick, shaggy winter coats. Why the name confusion? Linguists can't be sure. Some have speculated that early European settlers may have referred to the animals as "boeuf"--French for "beef." Somehow the name stuck and later evolved to "buffalo."
For all the lionizing, bison aren't superheroes. They have a terrific sense of smell and excellent hearing. But their eyesight can be poor, making them easy to startle (which can lead to herd-wide stampedes).
This Art Deco bison sculpture, made of finely-cast spelter in the Twenties, still has traces of its original silver-plating. He stands squarely atop a black marble base and will lend a touch of rustic American romance to your office, mantelpiece or den. Click on the photo above to learn more about him.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248