Collectors scoop up Native American baskets at John Moran sale

Polychrome California Mission Rattlesnake basket, $29,250

Polychrome California Mission Rattlesnake basket, $29,250

LOS ANGELES – On March 15, John Moran Auctioneers introduced the James M. Cole Collection of American Indian Art to collectors and enjoyed great success. The white-glove auction of more than 300 lots exceeded expectations, with more than half of the items in the auction lineup selling above the high estimate.

Native American baskets were the main focus of this auction. Cole’s collection was comprised of many different types of baskets, mainly from California and the southwestern United States. The star of the show was a polychrome California Mission area Rattlesnake basket that achieved $29,250. A prime example of the style, rattlesnake Mission area baskets are highly sought after. This basket was enticing for many reasons, including its highly contrasting image; the use of black or dyed juncus, which is less common than the red; the relatively large size of the tray-shaped basket; and the beautifully executed delicate pattern of the snake, with the glimpse of the tail of a second snake in amber juncus trailing off the rim.

Polychrome California Mission pictorial basket, $5,937

Polychrome California Mission pictorial basket, $5,937

Other California Mission baskets that proved popular included a polychrome California Mission basket with an eye-catching eagle and cactus motif that realized $5,937, well above its estimate of $1,200-$1,800.

Polychrome Mono Lake Paiute pictorial basket woven by Emma Murphy, $11,875

Polychrome Mono Lake Paiute pictorial basket woven by Emma Murphy, $11,875

Baskets from other regions of California also took the bidders’ fancy. A Mono Lake Paiute basket by Emma Murphy featuring insect and frog images was won by a LiveAuctioneers bidder for $11,875 against an estimate of $6,000-$8,000. Born in the late 1860s or early 1870s, Murphy’s work was highly rated and considered exceptional, although her weaving career was relatively short, as she died in late 1925.

Polychrome Washoe beaded and lidded basket, $2,812

Polychrome Washoe beaded and lidded basket, $2,812

The basket offerings ranged from large to small, with the latter represented by a polychrome Washoe beaded and lidded basket. Estimated at $300-$500, it finished at $2,812. Two similarly shaped small globular Yokuts lidded baskets, offered together, finished at $1,900 against a $500-700 estimate. The distinctive imagery of the patterns of these baskets proved attractive, with one basket displaying a rattlesnake banded motif, and the other graced with stylized flies and an ant motif on the lid.

Large Polychrome Hopi basket, $3,437

Large Polychrome Hopi basket, $3,437

Capping the collection of baskets were the Hupa/Yurok/Karuk basket hats from Northern California. A couple of the Hopi baskets fared well, and a large polychrome Hopi basket with striking Kachina motifs earned $3,437. This basket won the Best of Show ribbon at The Original American Indian & Western Relic Show held in Pasadena, California in 1995.

Large blackware Santa Clara pottery olla, $8,450

Large blackware Santa Clara pottery olla, $8,450

The sale’s Southwestern pottery selection did not disappoint. A group of Hopi pottery finished at $3,900, well above its estimate of $300-$500, and included pieces by Hattie Carl and Fannie Nampeyo. However, it was Lot 51, a large hand-coiled blackware Santa Clara pottery olla from the late 19th century, with an exaggerated waist and a pie crust rim, which attained $8,450.

Large Abraham Begay sterling and inlaid stone bolo tie, $4,375

Large Abraham Begay sterling and inlaid stone bolo tie, $4,375

Strong examples of Southwest jewelry led to top bids. Abraham Begay Navajo bolo ties had a powerful showing, with most selling well above their estimates. The crown jewel, Lot 140, featuring an elaborate inlay design in silver and blues with inlay tip dangles, closed at $4,375.

Framed collection of implements, pre-historic or later, $2,812

Framed collection of implements, pre-historic or later, $2,812

Ancient designs and contemporary stone artifacts featured in the collection as well. A large glazed framed board of multiple points arranged in a design reminiscent of Northwest Coast button blankets finished at $2,812.50, well above its $600-$800 estimate. Also, a group of California plummet/charm stones reached $5,312 against an estimate of $1,000-$1,500.

Pair of Sioux beaded and quilled hide moccasins, $2,125

Pair of Sioux beaded and quilled hide moccasins, $2,125

Rounding out the highlights was a vibrant pair of Sioux beaded and quilled hide moccasins. Estimated at $600-$800, it realized $2,125.

 

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