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December Native American Art Sale to offer rare historic and contemporary artifacts
A rare and important Navajo Sun's House screen. For use in the Sun's House Branch of the Male Shootingway healing chant, constructed as a series of joined willow rods, painted in broad bands of four significant colors, openings near the bottom occupied by representations of Holy People, these same four deities seen overhead surmounted by cloud symbols, four guardian snakes mounted across the center, five birds representing the heavens flutter above; along with three emblematic lightning sticks, implements used on the ninth night of the observance by dancers in the dark circle-of-branches place. Height 56 1/2in, width 66in. Est. $40,000 - 60,000. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Bonhams announced its Native American Art sale, December 3 in San Francisco, the grand highlight of which will be a rare and important, finely woven Navajo chief's blanket, originally from the Silverman Museum Collection, that is very likely one of the earliest third phase blankets in existence (est. $125,000-175,000).

The sale will also feature a selection of other fine weavings, including a Navajo classic woman's dress, extremely tightly woven, with both panels in pristine condition, likely dating to the 1860s (est. $25,000-35,000); two examples of superb, Navajo classic child's blankets, each with characteristic serape pattern realized on a smaller scale (est. $20,000-40,000 and $15,000-25,000, respectively); and a fascinating and rare room-sized weaving, likely a Hubbell Revival period example, emulating a classical Navajo sarape (est. $15,000-25,000).

As has been the tradition, a choice selection of historic basketry, pottery and beadwork will also be offered. Highlights will include a Yokut polychrome "gambling" tray, showing concentric rattlesnake and zigzag bands, with pairs of human figures hand-in-hand below the rim. The tray measures 23” in diameter and is a prime example of made-for-sale art during the golden age of California basketry, dating to the first quarter of the 20th century (est. $15,000-20,000). There will also be a Lucy Telles lidded basket from the Robert “Trader Bob” Bayuk Collection (est. $20,000-30,000), along with other examples from famous-name weavers. Early pottery will include a rare proto-classic Sankawi black-on-cream jar (est. $3,000-5,000), as well as a couple of ancient Anasazi black-on-white ollas of varying estimates.

Amongst the historic beadwork in the sale will be a rare and unusual pair of Eastern Sioux beaded moccasins/shoes (est. $8,000-12,000). The hard-heeled slippers, circa mid-19th century, make a marvelous cross-cultural statement. Other notable lots from this section include an Apache bow case and quiver (est. $6,000-9,000) and a rare and unusual Fort Berthold quilled tobacco bag (est. $6,000-9,000).

From the Northwest Coast will come material such as two elaborately carved bentwood boxes, (est. $20,000-30,000 and $8,000-12,000, respectively); a figural ladle from the James Hooper Collection, UK (est. $6,000-9,000); an argillite ship pipe (est. $7,000-10,000); and several vintage masks from the Nootka and the Haida or Tlingit peoples.

Bonhams is also proud to present Property from the Estate of Daniel Albrecht, Phoenix, AZ, from which will come several late 19th/early 20th century Pueblo cross necklaces, the best example estimated at $5,000-8,000, as well as a set of later Navajo silver flatware for 12, by Elmer (Anthony) and Ivan Kee, of the White Hogan Gallery (est. $6,000-9,000).

Jim Haas, Vice President and Native American Art Director at Bonhams, says of the collection: “It is apparent Mr. Albrecht had very discriminating taste. It makes my job a pleasure to handle such excellent material, both antique and contemporary.”

An almost unprecedented selection of contemporary highlights, collected over the last 30 years, will also be on offer from the Albrecht Estate. Included will be far-ranging and very sought-after Southwest pottery examples by Maria Martinez, her son Popovi Da and her grandson Tony Da, with suggested estimates from $1,000 to $20,000. Particularly notable lots from this source will also include a 23”-tall original stone sculpture by Allan Houser (est. $20,000-30,000); Navajo baskets by Elsie Holiday (est. $2,000-3,000); and a selection of very fine jewelry from the likes of Mike Bird-Romero and Lloyd Kiva New, of varying estimates. A small group of superior contemporary Navajo textiles from this estate features two tapestry-woven rugs: by Virgina Deal and her daughter Carlene (est. $3,000-5,000). Jewelry has come in from other collections, such as a small, but fine group of Hopi bracelets and pendants by artists Charles Loloma and his niece Sonwai.

Contemporary pottery examples will extend to include works of varying estimates by Al Qoyawayma, Margaret Tafoya, Charles Loloma (stoneware) and Tammy Garcia.

There will also be contemporary offerings from a carefully-curated East Coast Private Collection of Inuit art. Stone sculptures from well-known carvers, from the 60s to recent times, will be up for sale, along with a smaller selection of Eskimo masks, pipes, tools and decorations.

Rounding out the sale, there is an exceptional New Mexican Cristo, or crucified Christ, attributed to Jose Benito Ortega, measuring 57.5 inches (est. $6,000-9,000); a special assortment of Navajo material culture, including a rare and important Sun's House screen for use in the Sun's House Branch of the Male Shootingway ceremony, constructed with joined willow rods, painted in broad bands of four significant colors (est. $40,000-60,000); a first-phase Navajo silver concha belt (est. $8,000-12,000); and a selection of kachina dolls from the Nancy Sue and Judson C. Ball Collection, in a wide range of presale estimates.

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