Plains Masterpiece Leads Skinner’s May 6 Auction of American Indian & Ethnographic Art

Rare and Important Blackfeet Chief's Shirt and Leggings, c. 1830s (Lot 143, Estimate $600,000-$800,000)

Rare and Important Blackfeet Chief’s Shirt and Leggings, c. 1830s (Lot 143, Estimate $600,000-$800,000)

BOSTON, MA – April 15, 2016 – Skinner, Inc. will host an auction of American Indian & Ethnographic Art at 10AM on May 6 in its Boston gallery, featuring a wide range of art from Africa and Oceania; American Indian material culture from the American Plains, Northwest Coast, Woodlands and Southwest; and related photography, paintings, and other artwork.

“In this auction, Skinner will be presenting  some of the finest Native American cultural artifacts ever offered in the company’s history,” said Douglas Deihl, Director of American Indian & Ethnographic Art at Skinner. “In addition to the outstanding Plains material in the sale, there are many other fine and unique items drawn from other major tribal cultures, both in North America and beyond.”

African and Oceanic Art

The auction will open with a small selection of tribal material including three Yoruba shrine figures, from the Abeokuta area of Nigeria and attributed to the Adugbologe family (Lots 5-7), and an eclectic group of South Pacific material including a Maori Carved Wood Hand Club (Lot 34, estimated between $6,000 and $8,000) and a fine Solomon Islands Feather Money (Lot 29, $6,000-$8,000).

Plains Indian Art

An outstanding selection of Plains Indian material anchors the sale. The highlight of the auction, a circa 1830 Blackfeet Chief’s Shirt and Leggings (Lot 143, $600,000-$800,000) collected by Captain Reymond Hervey de Montmorency, Third Viscount Frankfort de Montmorency, is a rare and remarkable survivor;  only one other similar example is known. (To view an essay by Mike Cowdrey on Lot 143, please visit Also of note is a Rare and Important Plains Apache Woman’s Dress and Moccasins, c. 1850 (Lot 148, $80,000-$120,000) from the collection of Paul Rabut.

Rare and Important Plains Apache Woman's Dress and Moccasins, c. 1850 (Lot 148, Estimate $80,000-$120,000)

Rare and Important Plains Apache Woman’s Dress and Moccasins, c. 1850 (Lot 148, Estimate $80,000-$120,000)

Other exceptional Plains items include four Kiowa Strike-a-Light bags (Lots 83-86) and a group of fine Lakota, Arapaho, Cheyenne and Ute pipe bags (Lots 87-99), including a Lakota Beaded and Quilled Hide Pipe Bag attributed to the Hunkpapa chief “Rain in the Face” (Lot 96, $8,000-$12,000). Other exceptional beaded items include a Kiowa Beaded Toy Cradle (Lot 126, $5,000-$7,000), a classic Lakota Beaded Buffalo Hide Cradle (Lot 130, $15,000-$20,000), a Lakota Beaded Buffalo Hide Possible Bag (Lot 132, $8,000-$12,000), and two Blackfeet knife sheaths (Lots 169 and 171).

Tomahawks are featured in a fine group of Plains and Great Lakes weapons. Standouts include pipe-form (Lot 154) and perforated (Lot 159) examples and an unusually ornate Plains Spontoon-style Tomahawk (Lot 160, $6,000-$8,000). Also of interest is Lot 163, a Rare Dakota Lance from the second quarter of the 19th century ($4,000-$6,000).

Other Native American Artifacts

From the Northeast and Great Lakes area are two fine Micmac pipes (Lots 187 and 188), a Rare Great Lakes Quilled Hide Double Knife Sheath (Lot 190, $15,000-$20,000), and an extremely Rare and Important Eastern Ojibwa (Saulteau) War Chief’s Turban-Headdress, c. 1840’s, with a loom-beaded front panel executed with exceedingly small Venetian trade beads (Lot 191, $12,000-$16,000). (To view an in-depth discussion of this rare headdress written by Mike Cowdrey, please visit Highlights from the Northwest Coast include three fine argillite pipes by the Haida (Lots 207-209), two large kerf bent boxes (Lots 210 and 211), and a rare Tlingit Chilkat Shaman’s Dance Apron (Lot 212, $12,000-$16,000) collected by Admiral Robert E. Coontz, who was stationed at Sitka, Alaska, in the 1880s as a young U.S Naval officer. From the Southwest, a Rare Navajo Beaded Hide War Cap (Lot 218, $2,000-$2,500) and Thirty-two Painted Hide Apache Playing Cards (Lot 222, $8,000-$12,000) which are pictured in “Playing Cards of the Apaches” by Virginia Wayland, Harold Wayland, and Alan Ferg, are standouts.

Rare and Important Eastern Ojibwa (Saulteau) War Chief's Turban-Headdress, c. 1840s (Lot 191, Estimate $12,000-$16,000)

Rare and Important Eastern Ojibwa (Saulteau) War Chief’s Turban-Headdress, c. 1840s (Lot 191, Estimate $12,000-$16,000)


A selection of photography, paintings and posters is led by a group of photographs by C.S Fly and others depicting Apache Indians (Lots 224-243), collected by John Nelson Glass and descended in his family; included are rare photographs of Geronimo and of scenes near Fort Apache. Also featured are an Orotone of a Plateau Woman and Baby by Phillip Gibbs (Lot 248, $2,000-$2,500) and two orotones by Edward Curtis, “Canyon del Muerto” (Lot 249, $5,000-$7,000) and  “Canyon de Chelly” (Lot 250, $6,000-$8,000).

Domestic Arts

Highlighting this section of the sale are two fine Navajo textiles, a Transitional Wearing Blanket (Lot 260, $10,000-$15,000) woven in a second phase chief’s pattern, and a Late Classic Moki Blanket (Lot 262, $8,000-$12,000) woven with natural and synthetic dyed wool in a diamond lattice pattern over stripes of indigo blue and dark brown. Pottery includes Lot 266, a Hopi Painted Seed Jar ($2,000-$2,500), from the Frank Speck collection and attributed to Nampeyo, and a Large Cochiti Painted Ceramic Figure (Lot 269, $5,000-$7,000). The small basketry sampling which closes the sale includes an exceptional Nez Perce Cornhusk Bag (Lot 270, $1,000-$1,500) and an Apache Pictorial Basketry Bowl (Lot 289, $2,000-$2,500).

Previews, Catalog, and Bidding

Previews for the auction are free and open to the public. Previews will be held in Boston on Wednesday, May 4 from noon to 5PM; on Thursday, May 5 from noon to 7PM; and on Friday, May 6 from 8AM to 9:30AM. Illustrated catalog 2893B is available from the Subscriptions Department at 508-970-3240 or from the Gallery. Prices realized will be available online at during and after the sale. The Skinner website also enables users to view all lots in the auction, leave bids, order catalogs and bid live, in real-time through SkinnerLive!

About Skinner

Skinner auctions draw international interest from buyers and consignors alike, with material regularly achieving record prices. The company’s auction and appraisal services focus on fine art, jewelry, furniture, and decorative arts from around the globe, as well as wine, fine musical instruments, rare books, Asian art, clocks, Judaica, and more. Monthly Skinner Discovery auctions feature a breadth of estate material. Widely regarded as one of the most trusted names in the business, Skinner appraisers have appeared on the PBS-TV series, Antiques Roadshow, since the show’s inception. Skinner has galleries in Boston and Marlborough, Massachusetts, as well as in New York City and Miami, Florida, with bidders participating in person, by phone, and online. Join auctions live with SkinnerLive! and Bidsquare. For more information and to read our blog, visit the website at, find us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter or Instagram.

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