DALLAS, Texas – A Crow beaded hide war shirt once belonging to Chief Bell Rock is expected to sell for more than $40,000 in Ethnographic Art: American Indian, Pre-Columbian & Tribal Jewelry, a specialty auction conducted by Heritage Auctions on Nov. 18. The rare war shirt is the pinnacle of the private collection of Houston businessman Kenneth S. “Bud” Adams Jr., whose more than 100 lots make up the cornerstone of the sale. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.
Adams, a founder of the American Football League and owner of one of its charter teams, the Oilers/Titans franchise, remained close to his heritage as an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. Entranced by the rich color and stunning visuals of the Southwest, his collection of American Indian art was just one expression of his enthusiasm for the material culture of his heritage.
Chief Bell Rock’s shirt dates to about 1900 and is lavishly decorated with metallic and glass seed beads, red wool trade cloth, horsehair and sinew.
Also included in Adams’ collection is an early and rare Otoe beaded hide tobacco bag (below; est. $18,000-$22,000) dated to the 1870s, as well as two attractive items from the Cheyenne tribe: a circa 1870s painted buffalo hide medicine case (est. $10,000-$15,000) made of buffalo rawhide dates to the 1870s and a Cheyenne beaded hide baby carrier (est. $10,000-$15,000), decorated with glass seed beads, wood, canvas, cotton cloth, brass bells and thimble, globular and tubular glass beads, which dates to the early 20th century.
The more than 400 additional historic lots span millennia and several cultures across North and Central America.
A rare Chumash polychrome coiled tray (est. $18,000-$20,000), circa 18th century, is crafted in a style well known to academics. The visual anthropologist J.C.H. King, who spent 40 years as a curator at the British Museum, illustrates a similar Chumash basket – probably by the same hand – in two of his books. Also on offer is an extraordinary Chumash coiled jar (est. $20,000-$25,000), made of natural and dyed juncas and sumac.
A diverse selection of ethnographic art includes a Chupicuaro standing female (est. $7,000-$10,000), circa 400 – 200 B.C., a Teotihuacan stone mask (est. $20,000-$30,000) circa 450-650 A.D. and an Olmec jade maskette pendant (est. $10,000-$15,000), a superb, utterly classic example in rich, deep green jade.
Important pre-Columbian ceramics features a Veracruz standing priest or orator (est. $3,000-$4,000) dated to about A.D. 450 – 650.
The sale also has about two dozen Jalisco figures including a seated male measuring 18 3/4 inches tall (est. $10,000-$15,000) and dating between 200 B.C. and A.D. 200.