Exceptional Plains Indian Art Stands Out at Auction

BOSTON, MA – August 11, 2014 – Exceptional Plains Indian clothing and beaded objects will be available at Skinner, Inc.’s American Indian & Ethnographic Art auction on September 6, 2014 in Boston, alongside tribal art from Africa, Melanesia, Polynesia, and Australia, pre-Colombian art, and objects from the Northeast woodlands and Northwest coast of North America. “Rare objects at a range of price points will catch the interest of both new and advanced collectors,” says Douglas Deihl, Director of American Indian & Ethnographic Art.

Plains Indian Art

Plains Beaded Buffalo Hide Possible Bag, c. mid-19th century (Lot 130, Estimate $35,000-$45,000)

Plains Beaded Buffalo Hide Possible Bag, c. mid-19th century (Lot 130, Estimate $35,000-$45,000)

A rare pony-beaded possible bag (Lot 130, $35,000 to $45,000) first appeared in public on an episode of Antiques Roadshow in 2007, and was later included in a 2010 “Simply the Best” special edition of the show. Mordecai Thomas Bartram (1843-1904) acquired the bag and several other objects when he ran a government store in Nohart, Nebraska between 1871 and 1873.

One of two exceptional Hunkpapa Sioux double saddle bags (Lots 134 and 135, each estimated at $20,000 to $25,000) bears a striking resemblance to an example in the famous Ogden B. Reed Northern Plains Indian Collection, and may be by the same maker. Both of the saddle bags date to before the battle of the Little Bighorn, when the famous Hunkpapa Sioux leader, Sitting Bull, defeated General Custer. The patina on these saddle bags reveals that they were used on horseback for years. “In my opinion,” said Deihl, “These are two of the finest saddle bags of this kind ever to be offered at auction.”

A Southern Cheyenne dress from about 1870 (Lot 117, estimated at $40,000 to $60,000) is a rare find. Detailed provenance adds interest to several other important items. An early Cheyenne pipe bag (Lot 139, $15,000 to $20,000) was likely collected by Major General William August Kobbe (1840-1931), and a Crow beaded cloth and hide horse collar (Lot 116, $5,000 to $7,000) comes from The Charles Miles Collection.

Aboriginal Rainforest Shield, northern Queensland (Lot 93, Estimate $10,000-$15,000)

Aboriginal Rainforest Shield, northern Queensland (Lot 93, Estimate $10,000-$15,000)

African and South Pacific Art

Collectors with an interest in African art will find a nice selection of dance masks, figures, and other carvings. A large Baule bush-cow helmet mask (Lot 30, $2,500 to $3,500) was exhibited twice at the Carnegie Institute and once at the Museum of Primitive Art.

A rare Aboriginal rainforest shield (Lot 93, $10,000 to $15,000) was purchased in the Midwest for just $50. Neither the buyer nor seller realized that the shield was a real treasure that will appeal to both a traditional and contemporary art aesthetic.

Objects from the South Pacific regions of Melanesia and Polynesia include daggers and other items from the collection of Leo and Lillian Fortess, along with weapons collected by George Collins while serving on a whaling ship out of New Bedford in the late 1850s.

Historic Ishi Glass Point, made c. 1911-14 (Lot 189, Estimate $7,000-$9,000)

Historic Ishi Glass Point, made c. 1911-14 (Lot 189, Estimate $7,000-$9,000)

Northwest Coast

In 1911, a Native American man walked out of the California wilderness. Anthropologists identified him as the last living descendent of the Yahi people, and gave him the name “Ishi,” which means “man” in the Yahi language. For the next four years, Ishi lived at the Anthropology Museum of the University of California, where he shared songs and stories, and demonstrated tool making and hunting techniques. A glass point that Ishi made during this period (Lot 189, $7,000 to $9,000) will be offered at auction along with a photograph of him. Sadly, Ishi passed away in 1916 from tuberculosis.

A rare Wasco-Wishram beaded hide man’s shirt and trousers (Lot 191, $80,000 to $120,000), collected by George H. Himes, founder of the Oregon Historical Society, in the late 19th century, will also be offered.

Large Framed Photograph by Joseph K. Dixon, 'Here Custer Fell (Four Crow Scouts at Custer Battlefield),' print c. 1915, date 1909 (Lot 247, Estimate $6,000-$8,000)

Large Framed Photograph by Joseph K. Dixon, ‘Here Custer Fell (Four Crow Scouts at Custer Battlefield),’ print c. 1915, date 1909 (Lot 247, Estimate $6,000-$8,000)

Weavings, Pottery, Baskets, and Other Indian Art

A large group of Southwest textiles features several Germantown weavings, including an exceptional multiple pattern weaving (Lot 290, $7,000 to $9,000). A Navajo classic Chief’s blanket (Lot 299, $5,000 to $7,000) comes from a Maine family that handed it down for generations. Pottery and baskets will also be offered, and a captivating photograph by Joseph K. Dixon (Lot 247, $6,000 to $8,000) depicts four Crow scouts at the gravesite for the battle of the Little Bighorn. The photo was taken during the famous Wanamaker Expeditions of 1908, 1909, and 1913.

Previews, Catalog and Bidding

Previews for the auction will be held on Thursday, September 4, from noon to 5 p.m., Friday, September 5, from noon to 7 p.m., and Saturday, September 6, from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Illustrated Catalog #2745B is available from the Subscription Department, at 508-970-3240, or from the Gallery. Prices realized will be available online, at www.skinnerinc.com, both during and after the sale. The Skinner website enables users to view every lot in the auctions, 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, 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 Coral Gables, Florida, 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 www.skinnerinc.com, find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/skinnerauctions, or follow us on Twitter @Skinnerinc.



Douglas Deihl
Director of American Indian & Ethnographic Art

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