Native American art, artifacts and collectibles do well at Best of Santa Fe

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Native American art, artifacts and collectibles do well at Best of Santa Fe
Late 1800s sinew sewn hide Sioux war shirt with lazy stitched beaded geometrics, arm and shoulder strips and several American flags ($27,500).

SANTA FE, NM.- A pair of Sioux beaded war shirts combined to sell for $50,000 and were the top two lots at Best of Santa Fe, an annual auction hosted by Allard Auctions, Inc., based in St. Ignatius, Mont. This year's event was held August 12-14 in the Santa Fe Scottish Rite Temple, at 463 Paseo de Peralta. Over 800 lots came up for bid in a sale that grossed just under $500,000.

Top lot honors went to a fantastic, late 1800s sinew sewn hide Sioux war shirt with lazy stitched beaded geometrics, arm and shoulder strips and several American flags. The shirt was in good condition, with reinforced shoulders, and measured an impressive 65 inches by 41 inches. Pulled from the Doug Allard collection and purchased in 1999 for $28,000, the shirt sold for $27,500.

The runner-up lot was a beautiful, circa 1900 traditionally made buckskin Sioux warrior's shirt, with sinew sewn and lazy stitched beaded geometric panels and collar tabs, quill wrapped bound hair suspensions and fringed trim. Previously owned by Joseph O'Leary, a curator at the Peabody Museum in the 1990s whose collection was sold at Christie's in 1994, the shirt went for $22,500.

The auction was packed with American Indian artifacts, art and related collectibles, to include historic war shirts, cradleboards, Germantown weavings, beadwork from two major private collections, California and Southwestern baskets, Northwest Coast and Eskimo items and Native American paintings. Internet bidding was provided by and

In the past, Best of Santa Fe has traditionally been a two-day event. But this year, something new was added: a Friday evening session, Aug. 12th, that started at 6 pm Mountain time. The session featured quality Indian jewelry, outstanding concho belts, nice bolo ties, special squash blossom necklaces, bracelets, bolo and buckle sets, signed originals, one-of-a-kinds and many other items.

Following are additional highlights of the auction. All prices quoted are hammer, exclusive of a sliding scale buyer's premium of 15-25 percent.

The third top lot was also a war shirt, only not Sioux but Northern Plains. The historic, late 19th century all-buckskin war shirt boasted gorgeous wide quilled sleeves and body strips with traditional geometrics done in purples, pinks, green, yellow and red (albeit faded). The shirt was partially restored and had some missing and broken quills, but it still changed hands for $20,000.

A traditional white buckskin Sioux women's dress, made around 1900 with sinew sewn and lazy stitch beaded yoke strips, finished at $11,000. The size medium dress, featuring a yellow ochred top, lots of cut-in fringe, a scalloped abdomen and pretty beaded hem with rare red ochring, had also been once owned by O'Leary. It was in very good condition, with just very minor bead loss.

A star lot of the Native American jewelry category was an exquisite tear-drop shadowbox Lander Blue turquoise necklace, made in the late 1900's by the artisan Lee Yazzie and strung on a simple silver bead and nugget necklace, with delicate silver blossoms. The 19-inch pendant, in excellent condition, was snapped up for $7,500. Lee Yazzie is a renowned Navajo designer and craftsman.

A finer weave, circa 1890 Navajo Germantown blanket (rug/weaving), large at 56 inches by 91 inches, gaveled for $7,000. The blanket was in excellent condition after some professional restoration and showed a rare pattern that was a hybrid of both Ganado and Crystal J. P. Moore period designs. It also boasted a positive/negative meandering border and full fringe at both ends.

Another late 1800s Navajo Germantown blanket that also did well was a sturdy finer weave example with larger and smaller sized ivory and red serrated diamonds, regular and reversed thin spider woman crosses and rare arrow figures, all placed on a Moki-striped black-over-purple and indigo ground. The 45 inch by 66 inch rug, with strong colors on both sides, breezed to $6,000.

An oil on linen depiction of a famous scene from the movie Lonesome Dove, showing Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones (as Gus and Woodrow), done in the 1990s by Dave Powell (Am., b. 1954) and titled Just Once I Would Like to Shoot a Educated Man, 30 inches by 40 inches (in the frame), commanded $6,000. The purchase price included full rights to all print reproduction.

A classic, large and beautiful Sioux beaded cradleboard, made circa 1920s or '30s, a sinew sewn and lazy stitch beaded baby wrap done on rare buffalo hide, with striking geometric figures on thinner wooden slats with brass tacks, went to a determined bidder for $5,500. The 38 inch by 8 inch cradleboard was last sold at auction in 1992 by Dunning's. It was the sale's catalog cover art.

A late 1800s extra rare Sioux buckskin and muslin cradleboard cover with beautiful red-orange flat-quilled designs (including American flags) rounded out the auction's top ten lots by bringing $5,000. The museum-quality piece, measuring 23 inches by 8 inches by 9 inches, was sturdy and intact, but somewhat fragile, as was evidenced by some missing and damaged quills, as expected.

Allard Auctions' next big event will be its Big Fall Phoenix Auction, planned for Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 12-13, at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites in Mesa, Arizona (just outside Phoenix), at 1600 South Country Club Road. Start times will be 12 noon on Nov. 12 and 10 am Nov. 13, Mountain time. Previews will be held both days, from 8 am until the first gavel falls on lot #1.

Allard Auctions, Inc. has been selling exclusively American Indian artifacts and art at auction since 1968. The firm is always on the hunt for quality merchandise for future auctions. To inquire about consigning a single piece, an estate or an entire collection, you may call them at (406) 745-0500 or toll-free: (888) 314-0343.

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