Over 800 pieces of American Indian artifacts, art and related collectibles, to include two major collections and other items in a variety of categories, will come up for bid at Best of Santa Fe, annual auction event hosted by Allard Auctions, Inc., based in Saint Ignatius, Mont. The auction will be held the weekend of Aug. 12-13, at the Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple.
This year’s Best of Santa Fe is being held the week before Indian Market, giving collectors of American Indian items added incentive to be in town that weekend. For those who can’t be there in person, online bidding will be provided by iCollector.com and LiveAuctioneers.com. Phone and absentee bids will also be taken. Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple is at 463 Paseo de Peralta.
One of the major collections is that of the longtime collector, hobbyist, Indian trader and feather artist Bob Wills from Dumont, N.J. “We’re honored to have Bob’s beadwork collection, plus the other interesting things he’s gathered over the years,” said Steve Allard of Allard Auctions, Inc.
The other headliner is an old collection of beadwork, baskets, cornhusks, horse gear and other pieces, gathered in the Columbia River Basin in the 1950s and ‘60s. All pieces are documented in the ledger of the original owner, Tommy Thompson, along with interesting notes and stories.
Also consigned are additional quality beadwork examples, a huge assortment of fine baskets, several high-end Navajo rugs/weavings, some rare old Pueblo pottery, “and the best group of Northwest Coast and Eskimo items it’s ever been our privilege to offer,” Mr. Allard remarked.
The auction will also feature lots of great Indian jewelry, some really rare original Native and Western art, a collection of Apache items, kachina carvings, Santa Fe antiques, antique trade beads, and a selection of interesting and hard-to-find antique, Western and Mexican collectibles.
A strong candidate for top lot of the auction is the early-to-mid-1900s Southern Plains war shirt, with an estimate of $20,000-$40,000. The museum-quality beaded hide war shirt, with shoulder and arm strips, quilled human hair drops, ermine tail suspensions, yellow ochred edges with fine cut-in fringe and beautiful green ochred body is as picturesque as it gets and in very good shape.
Of all the Navajo rug/weavings up for bid, one stands out from the rest, as much for its size (133 inches by 92 inches) as its estimate ($15,000-$30,000). Made circa 1970s-1980s, the room-size Teec Nos Pos rug is done in a sturdy, extra fine weave and loaded with wonderful, traditional and more contemporary figures and symbols. And like the war shirt, it is in very good condition.
Other Navajo rugs will include a mid-1900s extra fine weave fancy Germantown revival wearing blanket, very colorful and with symmetrical designs and fringed edges, 53 inches by 40 inches (est. $10,000-$20,000); and a room-size fine weave storm pattern rug, executed circa 1970s/’80s in gorgeous earth tone colors, museum quality and in excellent condition (est. $7,500-$15,000).
Several goldtone photos by the renowned American photographer E.S. Curtis (1868-1952) will cross the auction block. One is an early 1900s original orotone photo titled The Old Well at Acoma, in the original frame and signed (est. $10,000-$20,000). Another is a glass orotone photo of Curtis’s famous Signal Fire to the Mountain Gods in the original frame (est. $8,000-$16,000).
Two very different lots have identical estimates of $5,000-$10,000. One is a mid-to-late 1800s Mohawk solid wood cradleboard with elaborately hand-carved and painted designs and crossed early Canadian flags, 28 inches in length. The other is a circa 1900s Zuni pottery water jar, rather large (12 inches by 14 inches) and very interesting with rare double deer figures and floral forms.
Start times are 12 noon on Saturday, Aug. 12, and 10 am on Sunday, Aug. 13 (Mountain time). Previews will be held both auction days: from 8 am until noon on Aug. 12 and from 8-10 am on Aug. 13. A buyer’s premium of 20 percent (for online purchases) and 15 percent (for in-person and absentee bidding) will be applied to all purchases. Register in advance for online bidding.