Chumash basket, $35,000, leads Native American auction

SAN FRANCISCO — Bonhams announces a strong sales result of $1,456,776 from its Native American auctions, June 4 in San Francisco.

Approximately 500 lots of rare art and artifacts from three sales, the Robert “Trader Bob” Bayuk Collection of Native American Art, the G. Lorenzo Fritz Collection of Historic Native American Photographs, and a various owners sale of Fine Native American Art, attracted a great audience of varying collecting levels.

Chumash polychromed basket

Chumash polychrome basket: The globular basket tightly though unevenly woven, with large outlined diamond forms about the lower shoulder, series of triangles and ticked bands overhead. (Height 7 1/2 inches, diameter 9 inches.) $35,000. Photo courtesy Bonham’s.

The Robert “Trader Bob” Bayuk Collection, which featured an important selection of Native American basketry, took in $716,250. It was led by the $35,000 sale of a Chumash polychrome basket. Seldom-seen offerings from the Chumash tribe of Southern California, whose last known weaver passed away in the early 20th century, did well in the sale, with several lots taking top spots. Among them was a lidded polychrome bottleneck basket, which brought $18,750, and a tray which took in $16,250.

Also strong in the sale was the $35,000 sale of a Tubatulabul/Kawaiisu bottleneck polychrome basket. The basket was among a selection of approximately 13 separate lots of fine bottleneck baskets from California tribes such as the Kawaiisu, Miwok, Panamint, Tubatulabul, Western Mono and Yokut.

Also from the West were such highlights as a Mono Lake Paiute polychrome basket, which sold for $21,250; a Tlingit painted basketry hat, which brought $18,750; and a Yurok dance apron and dress, which took in $16,250.


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Rounding out the auction were three more strong sales. A pictorial olla from the Apache of Arizona brought $31,250, a Haida argillite ship pipe claimed $17,500 and a Mission polychrome pictorial basket realized $15,000.

Dogoszhi black-on-white olla

An important Dogoszhi black-on-white olla on a rounded base, with high shoulder, tapering neck and slight flaring rim, masterfully painted in a flowing pattern of surmounted hatchured bands of opposing wing motifs. (Height 19 1/2 inches, diameter 16 3/4 inches.) $50,000.

Jim Haas, Vice President and Native American Art Director at Bonhams, said of the sales: “In spite of the obvious belt-tightening seen amongst both dealers and collectors, it was heartening to see the strength of interest in some of the fine and rare examples of Native art we were privileged to handle.”

The sale of Fine Native American art from various owners was also very successful, bringing $659,813. Its top lot was an important Dogoszhi black-on-white olla, reported to have previously hung from the rafters at the historic Hubbell Trading Post, which realized $50,000.

Also from the realm of Southwest pottery were top lots which each brought $43,750, a Powhoge storage jar, of the San Ildefonso variety, in wonderful condition despite its late 18th century/early 19th century origin and an example at the other end of the time spectrum, a 1970s San Ildefonso polychrome turtle effigy by Tony Da.

Northward, from the Great Plains, were two more highlights of the sale: a pair of Blackfoot parfleche flat bags, which sold for $17,500, and a Plains beaded blanket strip, which realized $15,000.

From the Pacific Northwest were additional top lots: a Tlingit war dagger, which took in $37,500; a Nez Perce beaded dress, which brought $21,250; and, farther north and west, a fine and rare Koniag Eskimo atlatl, which sold for $18,750.

Also of note from the auction was the $37,500 sale of an important Saltillo sarape, very finely patterned and richly colored, dating back to the late 18th/early 19th century from Mexico.

Powhoge storage jar

A Powhoge storage jar, San Ildefonso variety, on a rounded base, painted in three registers of design panels worked in stylized feather elements and complementary crescents. (Height 17 1/2 inches, diameter 18 inches.) $43,750.

Last, but not least, taking in $80,713, was the G. Lorenzo Fritz Collection of Historic Native American Photographs. The sale featured more than 125 lots of early photography from late 19th/early 20th century photographers Camillus Sidney Fly, David F. Barry, E.A. Bonine, Henry Buehman, Frank A. Randall, George Ben Wittick, and others. Photograph types included tintype, stereoview, cabinet and boudoir cards, with subjects of famous historic figures, traditional views of a rapidly changing culture and the adaptation of Western ways by Native peoples.

Leading the sale were works by C.S. Fly, including a boudoir card, “Geronimo, Son and two picked Braves (Scene in Geronimo’s Camp, The Apache Outlaw and Murderer),” that brought $6,250; an imperial card, “An Instantaneous View of the Council Between General Crook and Geronimo,” that claimed $6,000; an imperial card, “General Crook, Staff, Interpreters and Packers,” that brought $3,500; and an imperial card, “Group of Hostiles (Scene in Geronimo’s Camp, The Apache Outlaw and Murderer),” that took in $2,125.

Additional top sales of the auction included an A.F. Randall imperial card, “’Nachez’ or ‘Nei-Chi-Ti’ (Son of Cochise) & wife ~ Chief of Chiricahua Apaches,” that realized $3,125; a D.F. Barry cabinet card, “Sitting Bull,” also selling at $3,125; an F. Hardesty imperial card, “Geronimo” and “Natchez,” that brought $2,250; and a J.C. Burge stereo view, of Al Sieber and Apache scouts, which sold for $2,125.

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