Demand for Fine American Indian Artifacts on the Rise

Skinner Grosses $1.7 Million in Latest Auction

BOSTON, Mass. – February 22, 2013 – Skinner, Inc. today announced exceptional results for its recent American Indian & Ethnographic Art sale held on Monday, February 11th. The sale grossed $1,777,912.50, including buyer’s premium, making it the most successful sale that the American Indian & Ethnographic Art department at Skinner has ever experienced.

Bidders competed from the floor, the phones, and over the internet throughout the sale. “There is a definite resurgence in interest in rare and evocative American Indian art and artifacts and every category performed well across the board,” offered Douglas Deihl, director of the American Indian & Ethnographic Art department at Skinner. “This record-setting sale represented early American material at its very best and we are pleased to bring items of this quality to auction.”

Plains Indian Art

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 (Sold for $144,000)

The top lot, a mid-19th century Plains pony beaded hide shirt that had belonged to Eugene Burr, exceeded its pre-sale estimate high, bringing $144,000. In 1855, the Burr family traveled west along the Oregon Trail to Utah. The father, David H. Burr, had been appointed the first Surveyor General to the state of Utah. His sons, David A. and Eugene Burr, traveled with him through Indian Territory and kept a diary of the journey. Eugene Burr died at the young age of 17 in 1857; his initials can be seen marked inside the top-selling item.

Heated bidding on a fine assortment of hide cradles pushed the prices of multiple lots well above pre-sale estimates. A pictorial Lakota cradle with a pre-sale estimate high of $35,000 sold for $78,000. A Cheyenne beaded hide cradle also doubled its high estimate, selling for $30,750.

The Joseph J. Rivera Collection

Cradles from the collection of the late Joseph J. Rivera of Santa Fe’s Morning Star Gallery also realized excellent prices. A magnificent Kiowa model cradle brought $57,000 and a classic Lakota beaded cradle sold for $33,600 – both exceeding pre-sale estimate highs. A Pawnee-style bear claw necklace assembled by Milford Chandler (1889-1981) brought $57,000 after competitive bidding.

Eskimo Art

Yupik Carved and Painted Wood Mask, c. late 19th century (Lot 266, Sold for $31,200)

Two rare and beautiful Yupik Eskimo masks brought high prices. One mask showing a bird head on top of a circular human-like face sold for $31,200. This piece descended in the family of Gustaf Osterberg, Chief mate on the US Coast and Geodetic Survey ship Yukon. Osterberg made several trips to the Alaskan coast starting in 1913, and possibly collected the mask on Nunivak Island. Another Yupik mask depicting a face framed by stylized animal ears brought $57,000.

The American Indian & Ethnographic Arts department is seeking material of high quality for the fall 2013 auction. Contact for more information.

The Skinner website allows users to view all lots in the auctions, leave bids, order catalogs, and bid live in real-time through SkinnerLive!. Visit and “like” Skinner on Facebook at

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, 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 with an international audience of bidders participating in person, by phone, and online through the SkinnerLive! online bidding platform. For more information and to read our blog, visit the website at, find us on Facebook at, or follow us on Twitter @Skinnerinc.


Douglas Deihl
Director of American Indian & Ethnographic Art

Kate de Bethune
Director of Marketing


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