CINCINNATI – As a sign of the market’s resilience during unprecedented times, Cowan’s American Indian Art auction realized $943,675 selling 92% of lots. Nearly 900 bidders participated in the auction on several separate online bidding platforms, by absentee or phone bids. While Cowan’s is no stranger to online-only auctions, this was the largest auction it has ever conducted without a live audience in its salesroom and marked the highest total for online bidding platforms in Cowan’s history. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
A mountain goat wool Tlingit Chilkat blanket (above) was the top lot of the day achieving a price of $30,000. The large, 66-inch-long blanket was dyed in colors of blue, yellow, cream and a variety of browns and depicted totem imagery surrounded by a double border.
“Our consignors placed a lot of trust in us to achieve the prices they’ve come to expect from us in a difficult environment and I’m thrilled that we were able to come through for them today,” said Danica Farnand, Cowan’s director of American Indian art. “I also want to thank our bidders for sticking with us through a slower than usual pace. That level resilience shows that the interest in the marketplace is just as high as it’s ever been.”
The auction featured an extraordinary collection of weavings from the John Andrews Collection of native jackets which saw four lots exceed five figures: a Navajo Two Grey Hills weaving by legendary master weaver Bessie Manygoats (Dine, c. 1905-1953) that sold for $21,250; a Navajo second phase woman’s chief’s blanket for $20,000; a second weaving by Bessie Manygoats for $18,750; and a set of late classic Navajo dress panels for $17,500.
The beadwork category also saw strong interest throughout the day. A brightly colored Apsaalooke beaded mirror bag nearly sold for four times its estimate selling for $15,000 against an estimate of $4,000. Other beadwork highlights included an Apsaalooke beaded hide jacket that sold for $9,375; a pair of Cheyenne pictorial beaded hide moccasins with depictions of thunderbirds for $9,375; a Nez Perce child’s beaded hide cradle for $7,680; and a Central Plains beaded deer hide tobacco bag for $7,500.
Other notable lots from the auction included a Sioux quilled hide shirt and leggings, collected by Gen. Herbert Everett Tutherly (1848-1921) that sold for $21,250; a Southern Cheyenne woman’s hide dress for $20,000; a Bannock sinew-backed bow with arrows collected by Gen. Tutherly for $15,000; a Lakota painted muslin panel for $11,250; an Eastern Sioux quilled pictorial tobacco bag, pipe and pipe tamper for $10,000; a pottery jar attributed to Nampeyo of Hano (Hopi-Tewa, 1859-1942) for $10,000; a Navajo Germantown third phase blanket for $10,000; and a Nuu-chah-nulth carved wood halibut club for $10,000.
Cowan’s next American Indian Art auction is scheduled to be held in September 2020.