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Bonhams June 3 Native American Art Auction in San Francisco brings $2.25 million
A Haida argillite totem pole. Attributed to Charles Edenshaw, comprising a seated bear grasping a human figure, a wolf holding a frog, and a raven at top, a salmon in his grip. height 10 1/8in. Sold for $48,750. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Bonhams reports its June 3 auction of Native American Art in San Francisco realized $2.25 million, with strong bidder participation in the auction room, on the phones and online. The 524 lot sale of pottery, historic basketry, fine textiles, Northwest Coast and Eskimo art; beadwork; jewelry and kachina dolls saw great success across all categories. Its top lot, a fine and rare polychrome storage jar by Hopi pottery artist Nampeyo, decorated with three images of the eagle tail composition, sold for $86,500.

Other pottery highlights in the sale included additional Hopi jars by Nampeyo, decorated with stylized bird forms that brought $17,500 and $15,000, respectively; a Zuni polychrome dough bowl, likely by We'wha, that sold for $17,500 (est. $8,000-12,000); and a Santa Ana polychrome jar that sold for $10,000 - all from the Jim and Lauris Phillips Collection, San Marino, CA. Also of note was a very rare Pinedale black-on-white human effigy that brought $15,000.

The Eskimo/Northwest Coast/California section of the sale was also greatly successful. Its most notable lot was a Haida argillite totem pole, attributed to Charles Edenshaw, featuring a seated bear grasping a human figure, a wolf holding a frog and a raven at the top with a salmon in his grip. Only 10 1/8 inches high, it sold for $48,750 (est. $7,000-10,000). A Haida argillite panel pipe also sold well, bringing $31,250. Rounding out the section was a John Tiktak stone sculpture from Kangiqliniq/Rankin Inlet, depicting a mother and child, that sold for $43,750 (est. $20,000-40,000), and a Northwest Coast Chilkat blanket that sold for $25,000.

Highlights from the Plains, Plateau and Woodlands region in the auction included a Plains pipe tomahawk that sold for $40,000, an Eastern Sioux burlwood effigy bowl that sold for $17,500 (est. $10,000-15,000); a Western Great Lakes ball head club that sold for $22,500; and an Eastern Woodlands ball head club that sold for $10,000 (est. $6,000-9,000).

Navajo weavings from the Jim and Lauris Phillips Collection also sold very well in the auction. From the collection was a classic chief's blanket that sold for $40,000; a late classic Moki serape that sold for $27,500; a late classic Moki blanket that sold for $20,000; a child's blanket that sold for $20,000; and a late classic chief's blanket that sold for $18,750 (est. $10,000-15,000). A Navajo Germantown rug from a Private Oklahoma Collection also sold well, bringing $22,500 (est. $10,000-15,000).

A great portion of the sale was filled with fine basketry. Notable highlights from various owners included a superb Maidu polychrome tray that sold for $37,500; a Chemehuevi polychrome olla, featuring a pair of diamondback rattlesnakes encircling the sides, that sold for $16,250 (est. $3,000-4,000); and a rare Plateau double cylinder cornhusk bag, of bi-lobed construction, that sold for $13,750 (est. $6,000-9,000). From the Jim and Lauris Phillips Collection, whose 400-plus lots of basketry have been portioned out in this and future sales, was a superb Yokuts polychrome gambling tray that sold for $32,500 (est. $20,000-30,000); an unusual Yokuts polychrome basket, possibly by Lucinda Hancock, that sold for $12,500; two Chumash polychrome baskets that sold for $23,750 and $12,500, respectively; and two Mission polychrome baskets that surpassed $5,000-7,000 estimates to bring $10,625 and $10,000.

From the portion of the sale featuring miscellaneous property from the Southwest came such Hopi highlights as a kachina doll, depicting Lenang, or Flute Kachina, that sold for $20,000 (est. $10,000-15,000), and a set of game pieces by Wilson Tawaquaptewa, conceived as four "kachina" dolls that sold for $10,625 (est. $4,000-6,000) – both from the Jim and Lauris Phillips Collection. An additional Hopi kachina doll of note, representing the Two-Horned Deity, sold for $11,250 (est. $6,000-9,000).

Hopi jewelry by Charles Loloma also sold well in the auction. Highlights included a wide silver bangle bracelet, set with square-cut turquoise, lapis, ironwood and coral, silver spacers, that sold for $18,750 (est. $7,000-10,000); a silver bangle bracelet set with fine square-cut turquoise stones, lapis, ironwood and coral, gold spacers that sold for $15,000 (est. $5,000-7,000); and a silver bangle bracelet set with mostly square-cut coral and an occasional spacer of lapis, turquoise and gold that sold for $10,625 (est. $4,000-6,000).

Jim Haas, Vice President and Native American Art Director at Bonhams, commented of the sale, “I’m quite pleased with the results. The total amount for the sale makes it one of our strongest in years. We had a lot of new buyers and in general I think it is safe to say the market is making a comeback.”

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