American Indian Art

Now Seeking Consignments
for our
September 23rd American Indian and Western Art Auction -
Click to Consign


Results:
April 4, 2016 American Indian and Western Art Auction

Upcoming:
May 12 - 23, 2016 Timed Online American Indian and Western Art Auction

As a leader in the field of American Indian Art, Cowan's has sold over $21 million of Native objects. Auctions are held twice a year focusing on North American cultural and ethnographic material. Photography of the American Indian and works of art portraying a romantic West by artists such as Henry Farny, Charles Russell, and Joseph Sharp, create a well-rounded auction that attracts aggressive bidding by American Indian and Western art collectors.

Department Director

Danica M. Farnand
Specialist

Contact Information
Contact Danica at 513.871.1670 (ext. 215) or email indianart@cowans.com

Danica graduated from John Carroll University with a BA in Art History and continued on to earn her MA in Anthropology at the University of Cincinnati. After 12 years at Cowan's, she has developed the American Indian Art division, with two major auctions a year and sales totaling over $20 million since the department's inception.

Susan Labry Meyn
Susan is Cowan's consulting ethnologist. Author of Farny Paints the Far West and co-author of Rookwood and the American Indian, she holds a PhD in American Indian History and Anthropology.

***Press Release***

Major Collections Drive Interest and Strong Bidding in Cowan's September 25th American Indian and Western Art Auction

 CINCINNATI, Ohio – High interest from bidders demonstrated that exceptional collections were brought to market in Cowan's September 25th American Indian and Western Art Auction. The day was a success with sales totals reaching $911,000, an 87[%] sell-through rate and a lot average of $2,300.

 Pre-auction estimates were trounced all day at the auction. A large crowd on the floor coupled with active phone bidding throughout the entirety of the sale made for a veritable feeding frenzy for many of the lots. The highest selling lot in the auction was anExtraordinary Cheyenne Beaded Hide Tobacco Bag from the Glen-Isle Resort in Bailey, Colorado. After nearly five minutes of back and forth bidding between the floor and the phones, the bag eventually sold to a phone bidder for $72,000 over its $8,000/10,000 estimate.

 "The selection of items in this sale, as deep in quality as in variety, demonstrated that the market for American Indian art remains highly competitive at the upper levels," notes Danica Farnand, Director, American Indian Art. "The collections from Minnesota, the Hopewell Museum and then Glen Isle Resort lead the way throughout the auction, with over 30[%] of items selling for above the high estimate. I was thrilled with the results of the sale, and look forward to the next one!"

 The selection of items also included fresh-to-the-market Sioux, Northern Plains and Kiowa material. A Sioux Beaded Unborn Fawn Bag sold for $30,000 – thirty times its pre-auction estimate. A Northern Plains Beaded and Quilled Buffalo Hide Bowcase and Quiver with Bow and Arrows brought $27,600, and a Kiowa Beaded Hide Strike-a-Light Bag realized $12,000.

 Textiles played a noteworthy role in the auction. One of the highlights was a Sandpainting weaving by Manuelito (Navajo, 1893-1987). The weaving dates to about 1935 to 1940 and depicts, among others, Talking God and Black Calling God. Manuelito was the niece of Hosteen Klah, a Navajo medicine man and weaver, who encouraged her to weave sandpaintings and taught her the correct imagery. This example was de-accessioned from the Hopewell Museum in Hopewell, N.J., having previously been donated to that institution by Dr. David Blackwell Hill (1887-1979), who collected American Indian art long before it became fashionable. The weaving sold for $27,060. Additional highlights in the textiles portion of the auction included a Navajo Two Grey Hills Weaving that sold for $16,800 and a Navajo Third Phase Woman's Chief Blanket realized $15,600.

 Important tomahawks also hit the auction block in the September 25th sale. A Plains Pipe Tomahawk estimated to bring between $6,000/8,000 sold for $11,685, a Sioux Pipe Tomahawk realized $11,400, and a Western Plains Pipe Tomahawk from the Glen Isle Resort quadrupled its estimate of $2,000/4,000 and realized $9,600.

 Pottery and basketry exceeded expectations in the auction, generating strong interest from Internet and phone bidders. A frenzy of bidding surrounded a lot of California Mission Baskets depicting Reptiles and Insects. De-accessioned from the Hopewell Museum, the pair of baskets brought $9,000. An Apache Figural Basketry Olla realized $9,225, an Acoma Pottery Olla sold for $8,400, a Nampeyo of Hano Attributed Polychome  Polacca Pottery Bowl realized $5,400, and a Californian Open-weave Basket sold for $4,500.

 Beadwork was among the higher selling lots of the day in the sale. A Sioux Beaded and Quilled Hide Cradle Collected by Medal of Honor Recipient James M. Burns sold for $18,000. James Madison Burns enlisted in the West Virginia infantry in 1861. On May 15, 1864, at the Battle of New Market, Virginia while under heavy fire from the enemy he voluntarily assisted a wounded comrade from the field of battle, earning him the Congressional Medal of Honor. A Cheyenne Beaded Hide Tobacco Bag from the Collection of Monroe Killy of Minnesota sold for $6,000, and a Plains Beaded and Quilled Buffalo Hide Society Bag realized $5,400.

 The diversity of the auction continued with artwork and photography. A painting by John Nieto, titled "War Dance," sold for $9,000, a Karl Bodmer Hand-Colored Aquatint, titled "Bison Dance of the Mandan Indians in front of their medicine lodge in Mih-Tutta-Hankush," realized $6,600, an Oil on Canvas by Lajos Markos sold for $6,000, and a Silver Gelatin Photograph by Roland Reed, titled "Up the Cutback," sold for $2,640.

 The market for American Indian art remains highly competitive at the upper levels. Cowan's is now seeking exceptional consignments for our 2016 American Indian and Western Art Auctions. For more information, phone Cowan's Auctions at (513) 871-1670 or visit Cowans.com.

don't miss

an opportunity to bid. You can't win if you're not in.

sign up to bid

what's it worth?

ask the experts

sell your item

start selling
Edward S. Curtis Photogravure <i>Arikara Medicine Fraternity</i>
Lot # 106 - Edward S. Curtis Photogravure Arikara Medicine Fraternity
plate no. 157 from portfolio 5 of The North American Indian; 1908 copyright and produced by John Andrew & Son, image 15.75 in. x 12 in.; framed 27.5 in. x 21.5 in.
> Item Details
Navajo Transitional Weaving / Rug
Lot # 181 - Navajo Transitional Weaving / Rug
woven with thing red, yellow, black, green, and purple stripes alternating with wide carded gray stripes, 83.5 x 55 in.
ca 1900
> Item Details
Navajo and Hopi Silver and Turquoise Watch Bands and Pendants
Lot # 120 - Navajo and Hopi Silver and Turquoise Watch Bands and Pendants
lot of 4. Includes a triangular pendant with three turquoise stones, height 2 in.; PLUS another pendant with two turquoise stones, height 2 in.; PLUS a watch band with two rectangular coral stones, width of clasp to watch 2 in.; AND another watch band with two triangular stones, width of clasp to watch 1.25 in.
all ca 1970s
> Item Details
McKenney & Hall Lithograph <i>Tshusick</i>
Lot # 185 - McKenney & Hall Lithograph Tshusick
Hand-colored lithograph, titled Tshusick / An Ojibway Woman, dated 1838 and published by F.W. Greenough, Philad.; 18.75 x 13.75 in.
> Item Details
Saroff Studios Papier Mache Figures from Catlin's <i>Indians of North America</i>
Lot # - Saroff Studios Papier Mache Figures from Catlin's Indians of North America
lot of 2, both with identification labels pasted to base; includes a Mandan Medicine Man, height 12 in.; AND a Tlingit Masked Dancer taken from the New York Museum of Natural History, height 10.5 in.
second quarter 20th century
> Item Details
Navajo Transitional Weaving / Rug
Lot # 92 - Navajo Transitional Weaving / Rug
woven with soft hand-spun wool in colors of dark brown, red, and cream; central design of whirling logs contained within stepped diamonds, 118 x 65 in.
early 20th century
> Item Details
J. Arviso Navajo 14k Ring with Turquoise
Lot # 496 - J. Arviso Navajo 14k Ring with Turquoise
Decorated with parallel lines of gold set in turquoise, size 8.5.
fourth quarter 20th century
> Item Details
Greenland Walrus Ivory Tupilak
Lot # 14 - Greenland Walrus Ivory Tupilak
transformation figure with baleen eyes, height 5 in.
first half 20th century
> Item Details
Navajo Two Grey Hills Weaving / Rug
Lot # 205 - Navajo Two Grey Hills Weaving / Rug
woven of hand-spun wool in natural colors of cream, gray, tan, and black creating a complex design, 69.5 x 51.5 in.
mid-20th century
> Item Details
Northwestern California Basketry Hat
Lot # 9 - Northwestern California Basketry Hat
alternating bands of cream and dark brown broken by stacked triangles, height 3.5 in. x diameter 6.75 in.
early 20th century
> Item Details
Cherokee Polychrome Basket
Lot # 420 - Cherokee Polychrome Basket
with radiating diamond pattern in red and green, height 11 in. x diameter 8.5 in.
early 20th century
> Item Details
Navajo Silver Concha Belt from Asa Glascock Trading Post, Gallup, New Mexico
Lot # 259 - Navajo Silver Concha Belt from Asa Glascock Trading Post, Gallup, New Mexico
belt hand-wrought in a traditional style with six conchas and seven butterflies and a matching buckle, concha length 3.25 in. x belt length 34.5 in. 
first quarter 20th century

Asa Glascock Trading Post

Asa Glascock (1898-1965), a native of Ralls County, Missouri, owned and operated a successful trading post located on North Third Street in Gallup, New Mexico from 1922 to 1957.  He and his wife also managed a post in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for several years during the mid-1950s.  

Prior to becoming a trader, Glascock volunteered for the sheriff, serving as a member of the Gallup town posse when necessary and worked for the trans-continental railway.  During his time with the rail, which ran through the middle of town, Glascock severely injured his right hand.  This prompted his career change and became a trader who spoke fluent Navajo.

Asa’s wife, Margaret Smith Glascock (1924-2002), assisted him with the day-to-day activities typical of any thriving store—ordering supplies, showing merchandise, taking jewelry for pawn, operating the cash register, and keeping financial records.   

The post sold Navajo blankets, Pendleton blankets, pawn jewelry, glass beads, groceries, and household goods similar to those found in today’s small hardware stores.  One original item however, surpassed all others: the beaded leather belts.  The Glascocks sold the profitable belts to the National Park Service, as well as to dealers across the country.   

The post had a long counter off to the side, where Czechoslovakian glass beads were sold.  The Zuni purchased the colorful beads by the “whiskey shot glass” and hurried home to loom-bead vibrant strips in the requisite length.  When finished, the beaders returned the strips to the post where Margaret, using her Singer, stitched the strips to commercially made leather belts.  Her sons often helped her with the final phase of lacing white plastic around the edges.  The belt orders dwindled when the Japanese began imitating the belts. 

Glascock sold his post in 1957 and the family returned to a farm in Missouri where they, like the Navajo, kept a herd of sheep.  (David Williamson to Meyn, February 16, 2015, and Mary Tate Engels, ed., Tales from Wide Ruins, 1996: 192)

> Item Details
Southwestern Baskets Collected by John S. Boyden, Sr. (1906-1980)
Lot # 106 - Southwestern Baskets Collected by John S. Boyden, Sr. (1906-1980)
lot of 2, both rod constructed oblong baskets, possibly Navajo, with devil's claw decorations, height 3.5 in. x length 13.75 in., and height 5 in. x length 14.25 in.
second quarter 20th century 
> Item Details
Paiute Beaded Baskets
Lot # 87 - Paiute Beaded Baskets
lot of 3, includes one lidded basket beaded in colors of blue, green, yellow, red, and orange against a white ground, height 5.25 in. x diameter 5.25 in.; PLUS a smaller basket using a similar color pallet, height 1.5 in. x diameter 2.75 in.; AND a basket with blue, orange, and cobalt against a green ground, height 2 in. x diameter 3.25 in.
second to mid-20th century
> Item Details
Inuit Stone Sculptures
Lot # 25 - Inuit Stone Sculptures
lot of 2, unsigned sculptures of a man and woman, heights 12.5 in. AND 10.5 in.
20th century
> Item Details
Hopi <i>Tehabi</i> and <i>Koyemsi</i>, <i>Tatangaya</i>, and <i>Patung</i> Katsina Dolls
Kwakiutl Wooden Raven Knife
Lot # 25 - Kwakiutl Wooden Raven Knife
handle carved on one side with imagery of raven; painted in black and red, length 17 in.
ca 1900
> Item Details
Tommy Singer Navajo Silver and Turquoise Bolo
Lot # 345 - Tommy Singer Navajo Silver and Turquoise Bolo
Silver with central turquoise stone; verso stamped T. Singer/ Sterling, total length 16 in.
late 20th century
> Item Details
Fannie Nampeyo Hopi Jar
Lot # 286 - Fannie Nampeyo Hopi Jar
decorated with her migration pattern around shoulder; signed on base, height 6 in. x diameter 7.5 in.
mid-20th century
> Item Details
Edward Curtis (American, 1868-1952) Signed Platinum Photograph
Lot # 215 - Edward Curtis (American, 1868-1952) Signed Platinum Photograph

printed on textured paper; copyright blindstamp lower left; signed lower right
12 x 15.75 in.

Edward S. Curtis was a photographer and printer of stunning technical virtuosity. He printed a small body of his earliest and finest negatives in platinum, printing out prints, and silver processes specifically for personal exhibitions and sale to elite patrons. In these master exhibition prints, Curtis’ technical virtuosity is hallmarked by tremendous subtlety, delicacy, and richness. They are his greatest images executed in the most dramatic, challenging processes of photographic expression.
 
Today, master exhibition photographs comprise substantially less than one percent of Curtis’ extant work.  These seminal pieces embody the impetus of the project and the genius of the artist himself. These rare, haunting photographs are unparalleled as permanent documents of Native American life. In all respects they are the masterpieces of Curtis’ lifetime.

Platinum printing may be the most beautiful and exacting of all photographic printing processes. Although an exceptionally demanding and expensive medium, Curtis printed a small body of his best images in platinum. Platinum prints are Curtis’ most highly realized photographs, exhibiting miraculous tonal subtlety and resolution.
 
In platinum printing, platinum-based photographic emulsion saturates the paper fibers—in other processes the emulsion is suspended above them. The image thus forms within the paper, itself, resulting in a delicacy and depth that is a hallmark of Curtis’ platinum prints.
> Item Details