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Black Diamond at the 1985 ANA convention

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  • Member: Seasoned Veteran

A few weeks ago someone was asking for a photo of Black Diamond, the bison on the Fraser nickel, taken while the head was on display at the 1985 ANA convention in Baltimore. I took such a photo during the show and then couldn't find it when I was preparing my Buffalo Nickel book.

 

It turned up today during some house cleaning, so here it is. Bear in mind that this was taken in a dark part of the bourse room with an instamatic camera, so the quality is not great.

 

I'm also attaching a photo of Black Diamond furnished me by the owners of this head when I visited their home in 1993. The couple was quite elderly and have probably passed on since then, but the lady (daughter of the owner of the butcher shop where Black Diamond's head was displayed for decades) told me that she was leaving it to their son.

1692987-BlackDiamond-1985ANA-small.JPG.66d7aa73e4fc81341e8868319a12853e.JPG

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(daughter of the owner of the butcher shop where Black Diamond's head was displayed for decades)

 

So, Dave, what is the rest of the story? Black Diamond was just sent to a butcher shop and no concern was given to the remains? I don't get it. frown.gif

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instamatic camera
893scratchchin-thumb.gifconfused-smiley-013.gif

For you younguns, this was a camera that existed before digital cameras... yes, there were cameras before digital! Instamatic cameras where similar to today's point-and-shoot cameras where a cartridge containing something called photographic film was inserted into the a compartment in the back of the camera. Photographic film is "a sheet of plastic (polyester, nitrocellulose or cellulose acetate) coated with an emulsion containing light-sensitive silver halide salts (bonded by gelatin) with variable crystal sizes." The image is impressed on the film when exposted to electromagnetic radiation, such as light, to form an invisible image. To make that image appear, the film can be processed with specific chemicals, called developing. This creates a reverse image in color and image orientation on the film called a negative. The negative is projected on special paper that will reverse the information on the negative and display the image. Most people sent their film to a special laboratory that provided the developing and printing services.

 

Many of us who used instamatic cameras also grew up using pocket AM radios with single ear earphones (it was a great way to listen to the 1969 World Series with the line under my then long hair in fourth grade), cassette-based Walkman player (required for the library in college), single use lightbulbs for camera flashs--and in cube formats also, and these vinyl disks that were impressed with an encoding that played music using a special needle (in a day before CDs).

 

If you know what an 8-track tape is... well... I wouldn't admit it! insane.gif

 

flowerred.gif

 

Scott hi.gif

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Maybe the remains were eaten.

 

They were.....Steaks were sold for top buck at the time.

 

Great pictures, and thank you for your consideration for us dial-uppers by making the pix only 50Kb.

 

Paul

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David Lange's book "The Complete Guide to Buffalo Nickels" (3rd edition) has a very good section on Black Diamond, etc. (pp.24-28) including a couple of photos of the mounted head.

 

My forthcoming "Renaissance of American Coinage 1909-1915" has additional information and includes a photo of the entire critter before he was "subdivided." There's also a photo of the Smithsonian stuffed bison exhibit that Charles R. Knight, designer of the 1901 $10 note, used to supplement his drawings of "Pablo."

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blackdiamondII.jpg

I posted this one not long ago...yeah, affraid to say that he was turned into "Black Diamond" steaks and sold by the pound.

 

First time I see one of him hanging on the wall in the private owners home David...that's is a bit of history there.

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Too bad the rear end wasn't stuffed and put on display at the mint....

 

Seriously --- a bit to trivia:

 

Fraser's nickel design appears to have generated more letters and public interest, over a longer time than any other US coin design. The mint had to resort to mimeographed replies and had several versions including ones for the many elementary school classes that wrote asking for information.

 

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So, did Black Diamond die and then they butchered it or was it getting old and/or sickly and then they chopped it up into little bitty pieces? It still seems a little strange to me to do that to a national icon.

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I believe Black Diamond was simply a bison at the Bronx Zoo, perhaps, and that he was sold as Black Diamond Steaks when he became quite old. I don't know that folks universally thought of this bison as a national icon back in his day, and do not know how many folks think of him that way today. As an example, I just think he was a bison used as a model.

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Black Diamond was a resident of the Central Park Menagerie, not the Bronx Zoo. He was sold to the butcher in part because he was getting old (about 22 in 1915) and the menagerie would have had to pay $50 or more to have his carcass carted away if he died there. So, it was cheaper to sell the bison on the hoof. The menagerie manager used the proceeds to buy other, younger animals.

 

There were some public objections at the time since it was known that he was the model for the reverse of the nickel, but the animal was not the icon that we associate with the coin.

 

He got his name from a NY railroad express train.

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http://books.google.com/books?q=Black+Di...nt&ct=title

 

BOOK SEARCH........

The Central Park Zoo - Page 93 ( Black Diamond)

by Joan Scheier

Published 2002

Arcadia Publishing

History / U.S.

128 pages

 

Edited to add: For the un edited version

1. Google Search... Black Diamond was a resident of the Central Park

2. Click on.... Book results for Black Diamond was a resident of the Central Park

3. Select.... The Central Park Zoo - page 93

 

 

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Yeah--the first Buffalo wings -- and the train ran to Buffalo, NY.

 

Nice find on the Black Diamond in-one-piece photo. Are you sure that thing behind him is not a huge barbeque?

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sign-funnypost.gif

 

The problem with the Google book search is that you need a Google account. Granted they're free, but some people may not bother. So here you go... a 4x6 clip from the original picture.

 

1694163-Black-Diamond.jpgFrom The Central Park Zoo By Joan Scheier

 

Yes, posting this is legal. Not only is it legal under Fair Use provision of the copyright laws, but the image is from a public source (New York City Parks Public Archives) and not copyrightable.

 

Scott hi.gif

1694163-Black-Diamond.jpg.400b776fdd1b51c359f4dd827b9a81bd.jpg

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The only problem with the full length photo image is that it was taken in 1936, long after Black Diamond's demise in 1915.

 

Caption-

 

~The pose of this buffalo in 1936 may look familiar, as it is the image that appears on the nickel bearing its name.~

 

Same zoo, same species, American Bison, probably the same dirt (mound) but alas, not Fraizer's nemesis.

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Ahhh...always wondered if someone might have bought all the steaks and put him back together. Seems to have taken a while to do that. The stitching is hardly visible...

 

WJ makes a good point - be sure to read all the material accompanying a research entry.

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  • Member: Seasoned Veteran

So, Dave, what is the rest of the story? Black Diamond was just sent to a butcher shop and no concern was given to the remains? I don't get it. frown.gif

 

 

For the full story you'll have to read the books (mine and Roger's, too, when it's published) grin.gif

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So, Dave, what is the rest of the story? Black Diamond was just sent to a butcher shop and no concern was given to the remains? I don't get it. frown.gif

 

 

For the full story you'll have to read the books (mine and Roger's, too, when it's published) grin.gif

Dave, you set that hook real nicely. thumbsup2.gif

 

 

 

Now reel him in. 27_laughing.gif27_laughing.gif27_laughing.gifinsane.gif

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OK...OK…here’s what really happened….(but you’d better still buy the books!)

 

Actually…Black Diamond survived the assassination attempt in 1915 and made his way to France. He is said to have stowed away aboard a passenger ship by disguising himself as a fillet mignon. Upon arrival, he joined the French Aero Corps as a mechanic and quickly rose to the rank of Lieutenant commanding a section of pilots – mostly Americans from the Buffalo, NY area. During more than 45 sorties, he was credited with 18 “kills” including two observation balloons.

 

Unfortunately, during a weekend leave in Paris he decided to travel incognito. This proved to be his downfall as he was spied by a group of gastronomes working undercover for the Michelin Guide, and mistaken for an entree. Black Diamond was bison-napped and marched off despite his claims to have “...saved your French hide more than once!” It is said that one of his captors sarcastically remarked, “Oui, American flying Buffalo wing, we will be sure to save your hide!” That evening, as the city sparkled with autumn color, Black Diamond was served at a celebratory banquet honoring American volunteer ambulance drivers. The event was sponsored by former mint director A. Piatt Andrew, commander of the American Field Ambulance Service.

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Thanks for the pictures David. I was at Yellowstone this summer and they had a speaker from the Buffalo Bill Historical Center Buffalo center

 

One 4 of us showed up to hear the talk. Anyways, the speaker mentioned Black Diamond. He knew the head had been preserved but didn't know what happened to it. I told him it had been on display at the ANA meeting years ago. He was very interested in knowing where the head was located now.

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Hello all , I noticed this chat about Black Diamond and wanted to inquire if there were perhaps several Bison named 'Black Diamond' ?

 

I have an actual cut-out of the news article from after the death of the Central Park Buffalo , but do not have the original paper intact with the name or date, so I can not search any achives for a copy of an original paper to confirm it.

 

Anywho.... the story of the Bison's demise is rather un-settling and speaks of the times when folks apparently accepted more details in newsprint than they do today.

 

The article I have is datelined New York , November 26th ( no year) . 1915 is inked on the back .

 

I will have the article with me in Charlotte if anyone wants a copy.

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