Skinner hosts American Indian & ethnographic art auction Sept. 26

BOSTON – Skinner, Inc., has announced that its upcoming auction of American Indian and Ethnographic Art will be held on Sept. 26 at 10 a.m. in its Boston gallery. The sale features an eclectic array of material from more than 100 consignors including both historical societies and private collections. The vast majority of the property is fresh-to-the-market and in fine condition, with estimates reflecting current economic conditions.

The sale commences with an interesting grouping of Pre-Columbian material highlighted by a feathered cocoa bag, circa 500-800 A.D. (estimate $300-$400); a thousand-year-old poncho (estimate $350-$450); a Peruvian balance beam, likely used for weighing spices (lot 56, estimate $250-350); a stone and metal necklace, with crystal pendant (estimate $300-$400); and a shell and silver necklace, with warrior amulet beads (estimate $300-$400).

Other Pre-Columbian offerings of note include a carved wood lime container (estimate $400-$600); a Northern Argentinean carved stone bowl, circa 200 B.C.- 300 A.D., with two spotted feline forms looking up from the rim (estimate $4,000-$6,000); a Huastec limestone figure (estimate $6,000-$8,000); and two Mayan stucco panels, circa 550-950 A.D. (estimate $4,000-$6,000).

The September sale features an extensive selection of tribal material. The show-stopping piece might likely be a Maori carved wood male figure from 19th century New Zealand (estimate $30,000-$50,000). The figure comes from the collection of Rev. Alfred Fairbrother, by descendant of his family. Rev. Fairbrother was living in New Zealand on expedition with the Baptist church in the 1880s. The 1886 eruption of the volcano “Mt. Tarawera” destroyed the small Maori village and forced his leave. Upon his departure, the chief of the tribe bestowed upon him several hand-carved idols, tools and weapons, including the above reference lot. Also from the Rev Fairbrother’s collection is a Maori Tiki carved wood figure (estimate $3,000-$4,000).

Additional tribal highlights include a large Polynesian carved wood treasure box (estimate $12,000-$16,000); an Amazonian Tomoko mask (estimate $300-$500); an Indonesian carved wood panel (estimate $900-$1,200); a Hawaiian feathered lei from the last quarter of the 19th century (estimate $800-$1,200); a Hawaiian poi bowl (estimate $8,000-$12,000); and a nice selection of a dozen Aboriginal spears.

From Africa comes a carved stone head (estimate $6,000-$8,000); a Boli figure (lot 120, estimate $3,000-$4,000); a ceremonial trough (estimate $5,000-$7,000); a Yoruba carved wood helmet mask ($7,000-$9,000); and a carved wood drum, possibly Fang (estimate $400-$600).

Very fine examples of Plains material will be up for bid highlighted by a beaded and quilled buffalo hide rifle scabbard (estimate $10,000-$15,000); a beautiful beaded and quilled hide pipe bag from the late 19th century, beaded on one side with two American flags over a single bison, the other side with a single horse and geometric and cross devices (estimate $4,000-$6,000); a rare carved wood triple-blade club (estimate $25,000-$35,000); and an Indian pictograph book, circa pre-1881, entitled Indian Autographs (estimate $8,000-$12,000).

Among the American Indian offerings is a Northwest Coast carved wood raven rattle (estimate $6,000-$8,000); a lovely pair of Northeast beaded and quilled cloth and hide moccasins (estimate $5,000-$7,000); a Southwest late classic Moki blanket (estimate $8,000-$12,000); and a Germantown weaving depicting a locomotive (estimate $600-$800).

The sale also features one of the largest selections of Navajo jewelry to ever be offered in a Skinner American Indian sale. The jewelry comes from two collections and features an incredible selection of bracelets, as well as belts, rings, necklaces and pins. The majority of lots 262 to 309 are estimated between $200 on the low end and $2,000 at the high. Finally, the sale rounds out with a fine variety of Kachina dolls, pottery and twined basketry.

Previews for the auction will be held from 12 to 5 p.m. Sept. 24, 12 to 7 p.m. Sept. 25, and 8 to 9 a.m. Sept. 26. For more information, visit

Photos courtesy Skinner, Inc.