Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

American Indian & Ethnographic Art for Boston Auction

Skinner, Inc.’s Boston gallery will offer on May 15th some of the most interesting American Indian & Ethnographic Art to go on the block in some time. The auction features just shy of 650 works, some pieces dating back thousands of years. Represented are Pre-Columbian, Tribal and American Indian artifacts.

American Indian
A gem of the sale is a rare Hawken plains percussion rifle, c. second quarter 19th century. The gun was a product of the S. Hawken company of St. Louis, of which only about 300 are known. Brothers Samuel and Jacob Hawken were trained as rifle smiths by their father on the East Coast, but moved West and set up shop in St. Louis as fur trading became an industry. Their “plains rifles” were highly sought by Western customers that needed a light gun that could take down a big target. This piece represents the best example of early classic plains rifles and came to Skinner from a Midwestern woman whose father was an avid gun collector. The rifle is estimated to sell between $30,000 and $40,000.

Another sale highlight is a rare plains pictorial beaded suitcase from the Lakota tribe, c. late 19th century. This museum-quality piece features multicolored pictorial beadwork on buffalo hide covering a commercial leather and metal period suitcase. The suitcase comes from the estate of Mary Anne Claymore, whose family shares a long history in the West. Only one or two of these bags have surfaced and wear and tear suggests Native American use; the bag was most likely not a tourist piece. According to Douglas Deihl, director of American Indian and Ethnographic Art at Skinner, “The detailed depiction of scenes of American Indian life on this bag is amazing, with some of the faces done in small-cut beadwork even. A work like this doesn’t come along very often and, as such, we have great expectations for this piece.” The bag is estimated at $40,000 to $60,000.

Other featured American Indian items include a central plains pictorial beaded and quilled hide pipebag, also from the estate of Mary Anne Claymore, and estimated at $10,000 to $15,000, as well as several Northwest Coast pieces highlighted by a carved wood bowl, c. early 19th century, carved in the form of a seal, the head with early Russian trade bead eyes, estimated at $15,000 to $20,000. The sale also offers an amazing photo collection from the late Edward McAndrews including many early card de visite and photos of warriors with their weapons. A fine selection of weavings and pottery will also be available.

Over 200 lots of pre-Columbian material will be offered including a varied and vast selection of wearable jewelry, made of rock crystal, carnelian and gold and some with modern 18 kt. gold clasps. According to Deihl, “Now is a great time to invest in pre-Columbian artifacts. Much of what is being offered in this sale is coming from retired collectors making the opportunity to collect even more attractive.”

Of note in pre-Columbian offerings is a polychrome pottery jaguar tripod bowl from Costa Rica estimated at $1,500 to $2,000; a Carved Stone Mortar, Peru, c. 500-100 B.C., in a feline form estimated at $3,000 to $5,000; and two Nazca weavings from Peru, c. 200-600 A.D, both loosely woven green panel bordered on two sides with knit polychrome “munecas” figures, each estimated at $300 to $500.

African and Tribal
Tribal material up for bid includes a fine group of Maori carved weaponry. Of interest is a Maori carved wood quarter staff, Tewhatewha, 19th century, inlaid with abalone and estimated at $4,000 to $6,000. African highlights include a rare African carved Wood Mask, Mbole, in a shield-like form estimated at $8,000 to $12,000 and an African wood and metal reliquary figure, Gabon, Kota, estimated at $5,000 to $7,000.

Catalog, Preview and Event Information
Previews for the auction will be Thursday, May 13th, 12 to 5 p.m., Friday, May 14th, 12 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, May 15th, 8 to 9:30 a.m.

Illustrated catalog #2506 is available by mail for $35 ($42 for foreign requests) from the subscription department at 508-970-3000 x3240. It is also available at the gallery for $32. Prices realized will be available at during and after the sale. Skinner’s site also allows users to view all lots in the auctions, leave bids, order catalogs, and bid live in real-time through Skinner-Live, Skinner’s live online bidding applet.