Ancient St Lawrence Island artefacts on the auction block
at Bonhams San Francisco

San Francisco—The Native American Art auction at Bonhams, December 9 in San Francisco, will feature strong offerings from notable collections.

From the Eskimo and Northwest Coast are perhaps the most remarkable highlights of the entire sale: three Okvik period (200 BC – 100 AD) Eskimo works of art, the masterpiece of which is a carved, fossilised walrus ivory human female head, estimated at $150,000-250,000. Excavated nearby was a second carved head, an extraordinarily large male example. Also featured will be a pair of perfectly preserved carved wooden snow goggles. These phenomenal art objects are consigned by two St. Lawrence Island families who discovered them where their ancestors left them 2,000 years ago. There will also be several antique carvings from a Florida Collection, including a rare Eskimo fiddle decorated with a pair of human faces and a massive Kwakiutl figural feast ladle.

There will be a strong collection of pottery, including contemporary, historic and pre-historic examples, ranging 2,500 years. Contemporary examples will include a complete nativity scene by Helen Cordero; three superb pieces by Tony Da, the late, noted San Ildefonso Pueblo artist and grandson of Maria Martinez; as well as two large vases, one red-ware and the other black, by Margaret Tafoya of Santa Clara Pueblo. Collectible historic pottery will be on offer from the Phillips Collection and other estates. Pre-historic Southwest pottery will include figural Mimbres bowls. Rounding out the section are works attributed to the most famous Hopi-Tewa potter, the matriarch Nampeyo.

Weavings will be prominent in the sale. Taking pride of place will be a Navajo first phase Ute-style chief's blanket from a famous Hollywood collector (est. $300,000-500,000). From the Ruth Belikove Collection, there will be a superb selection of Navajo Teec Nos Pos rugs, many of which have been published and exhibited extensively. Also rich in the sale from that collection will be a dozen or more Rio Grande blankets, as well as classic Navajo blankets, transitional and pictorial examples. From an Oklahoma Collection will be four Navajo classic period textiles: three second and third phase chief's blankets and a woman's manta, one of the best of its type. The latter is estimated at $80,000-120,000. From another Oklahoma consignor will come a series of bold and vibrant Germantown Navajo rugs. There will also be offerings from a Georgia Estate, including several classic period Navajo wearing blankets.

Basketry will be bountiful in the sale with a brilliant display of Chumash, Mission and other mostly California-region baskets from Part Two of the Jim and Lauris Phillips Collection. Various consignors have also contributed select Washoe, Pomo and Apache examples.

From the Plains/Plateau/Woodlands regions will be a major highlight of the sale: a Plains shield and two painted covers, probably Cheyenne, decorated with dramatic iconography representing colourful thunderbirds, estimated at $150,000-200,000.

Contemporary Native American paintings and sculpture will include bronzes by iconic Apache artist Allan Houser and paintings by Fritz Scholder, the most notable of which is from Scholder's Dartmouth series. There will also be a gathering of pre-WWII kachina dolls from a Southeast family, and an entire Yeibechai set carved by Navajo woodcarver Clitso Dedman, of a sort that rarely ever comes to market, from an Arizona family.

Also on offer will be a great selection of historical and contemporary jewellery, with pieces by Charles Loloma, Jesse Monongye, Denise Wallace and other artists. Historic jewellery will be represented by a group of heavy silver squash blossom necklaces, and a cross necklace deaccessioned by a major Northwest Museum.

For more information about the auction, please visit

Auction Previews: December 6-9, San Francisco

Fine Native American Art Auction: December 9, San Francisco


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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