"Sam Houston Pin Cushion Holder"

  • Details

    Western,  Carved by Mr. Super to celebrate the Texas Centennial

  • Biography

    Dan Super (1873-1953)

    Dan E. Super, Jr. (1873 – 1953) Dan Super had the eye of a sculptor, envisioning and then creating hundreds of objects from the elongated form of a Texas Longhorn’s tusk. At the age of six, Dan Super carved his first drawing into a piece of the horn of a Texas Longhorn. Over the next 56 years, he made utilitarian pieces like pencil cups, pin cushions, and backscratchers, realistic replicas of animals and birds, and imaginative carvings of elegant nudes. While these carvings resemble the traditional art of scrimshaw, carvings from whale bone, we’ve not been able to identify another carver who used the Texas Longhorn as his material.  “My work is done with an ordinary pocketknife, hacksaw file and rasp,” Super wrote in 1937. He used the horn in every way conceivable; whole, allowing the shape to define the object he was making, flattened to make mosaic or inlay work. He incised and pierced it and carved in the round. His own hands polished the horn to a sheen.  Daniel Super, Jr. was born in Houston on August 22, 1873. His father owned stock years, D. Super and Brothers Co., providing the young Super with ready access to his raw material. Throughout his life, he worked in the businesses key to the identity and success of young, booming Houston, cattle, oil, real estate and rail. In 1896 he married Lula, and took over the family business, expanding it to include a grocery. He closed the company in 1912 and got into the oil business and in 1917 he went to work for T&N O Railroad, from which he retired in 1926. He died on June 1. 1953.  Super loved music and played 23 different instruments including a violin he carved. His most avid hobby was the longhorn carving collection, for which he received praise and acclaim. “I believe everyone should have a hobby, and I get lots of pleasure out of mine.” When the collection was displayed for the first time in 1926, it was insured for $2,000. Super would not accept money for his sculptures, although he gave many pieces away, including a hunting horn he sent to Teddy Roosevelt. Many of the carvings were made as gifts for his family and bear the names of his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter.    Exhibition History2015-16, Made in America: Craft Icons of the 50 States, Mingei International Museum, San Diego, CA  2001, It Aint Braggin’ If It’s True, The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, Austin, TX 1998-99, Making Myth of Texas Junk: Dan Super, Emil Schneegass and D.D. Smalley, organized by The Orange Show Foundation at The Art League of Houston, Texas; Austin College, Sherman, TX 1996, Dan Super: Superb Craftsman of Horn, Heritage Society Museum, Houston, TX 1936, Cattleman’s Convention, Texas 1920, Leopold & Price, Houston, TX Public Collections Theodore Roosevelt’s Collection, Sagamore Hill, Oyster Bay, New York