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Author Archives: Douglas Deihl

A Piece of American History: The Ishi Arrowhead

Historic Ishi Glass Point (Lot 189, Estimate $7,000 – $9,000)

For those who love history, there is often nothing as satisfying as owning an historical artifact. Whether it is fine art or a practical tool, we learn about history and our collective past through material culture. Interacting with an historical artifact can bring about excitement and awe, especially if the piece has a compelling story behind it.

Skinner regularly offers objects with interesting provenance at auction.… Read More

African Weapons as Design Elements in a Modern Interior

The circular holes and incised lines give this large Boa/Zande knife an Art Deco look.

A traditional African weapon can be a striking and affordable addition to any décor. The sleek lines and incised patterns of these knives, swords, and axes bring to mind modern sculpture, though these pieces were not created as art. Many were made strictly for combat, and others served as status symbols.

The Zande of central Africa made and used knives in battle until the end of the 19th century.… Read More

Plains Indian Artifacts and an 1855 Journey on the Oregon Trail

Rare Plains pony, seed bead, and quilled hide shirt

Rare Plains pony, seed bead, and quilled hide shirt, to be sold on February 9, 2013 (Lot 162, Estimate $80,000-$120,000)

In 1855, the Burr family traveled out west along the Oregon trail to Utah. The father, David H. Burr, had been appointed the first Surveyor General to the state of Utah. Burr was a lauded cartographer who had previously been named both “Topographer to the Post office” and “Geographer to the House of Representatives of the United States.” His works included an atlas of New York state, maps of New York city, and a 1839 map of the United States considered to be one of the most significant mappings of the American West.… Read More

Historic Southwest Pottery Guide: from Acoma to Zuni

Now is a good time to buy Southwest pottery. A large amount of material is coming onto the market, and for that reason you can easily find great, affordable pottery from the American Indian pueblos. Before you buy, it’s best to study the material and determine what appeals to you. Some people collect for rarity; others collect to decorate their Southwest-themed abodes.

Finely decorated pottery that was used by the people themselves is always very desirable. The rarest historic pottery is from Santa Ana. Because of their innovative designs and the fact that their pottery tradition ended at about the turn of the 20th century, a large Santa Ana olla could bring $100,000 or more.

American Indian Beadwork: Early 20th Century Plateau Pictorial Works

Many Plateau tribes made flat beaded handbags, vests, and other items in the last quarter of the 19th century. The earliest known examples show horse imagery and floral designs as well as other subjects from the natural world. These designs were generally arranged in a simple fashion on light backgrounds.

How to Buy American Indian Art: A Guide to Plains Material

American Indian Plains material is one of the most popular and consistently available collecting areas in American Indian art. Plains Indians, including the Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Lakota, Sioux, Crow, Kiowa, and Comanche, populated the continent from Texas to Canada, from west of the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains. While some Plains Indian material was made for the tourist market, many examples were worn and used by Indians themselves, making them all the more desirable.

Pointed Caps and Silver Hat Bands: Intriguing Finds in an Important Penobscot Indian Collection

A Penobscot woman nicknamed Mary Molasses sits staring at the camera, a tall, pointed cap on her head and a large silver brooch adorning her neck. This 1860 photo is a relic of a time when the Penobscot Nation in Maine still spoke its own language and wore traditional clothing made almost entirely from European trade goods.

Navajo Weaving Nets Over $200,000…

I realized the minute I first saw the weaving, with the variegated wool, the browns, all this great character, that this had to be a really early third phase Chief’s blanket. The consignors didn’t have a clue what they had. I told them, “Don’t worry, you’ll be happy.” When they saw the price realized online, they told me they had to look it up five or six times. They didn’t believe it.