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Bonhams winter sale of fine Native American art to feature one of the earliest known Cheyenne quilled shirts
A Navajo first phase chief's blanket, size approximately 4ft x 5ft 11in. Est. $250,000-350,000. Photo: Courtesy Bonhams.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- Bonhams announces that its Native American sale, December 5 in San Francisco, will feature a rare Cheyenne quilled shirt, circa 1830-1840 from The Bones Collection, that is one of the earliest examples known to exist today (estimate upon request). The shirt, which will be sold to benefit the Southern Oregon Historical Society, and has been in their collection since the 1950s, is said to have been collected at Fort McPherson in Nebraska in 1868, and may be associated with Spotted Tail, a Sioux leader, according to the family history accompanying it.

Jim Haas, Vice President and Native American Art Director at Bonhams, said of the sale: “The December auction is the sort we have been shooting for: smaller than past sales, but of uniformly high quality.”

More one-of-a-kind highlights in the sale include a modern Hopi bracelet by Charles Loloma, that stands out from his usual style, with gold and Japanese pearls (est. $20,000-40,000); and a historic painted hide by Fred Kabotie, depicting scenes of Hopi ceremonial and religious beliefs, similar to a mural painted at the Desert View Watchtower in the Grand Canyon in 1933 (est. $15,000-20,000). In addition to those examples, each region represented in the sale features rare and unique items.

The sale’s highlights from the Southwest will include a Navajo first phase Ute-style chief’s blanket – one of only a handful in existence, named due to its popularity with the Ute Indians and understood today as an iconic representation of the best Navajo weaving, from a private Texas collection (est. $250,000-350,000). There will also be a number of classic period Navajo blankets, woven for personal use rather than decorative purposes, with varying estimates. Also created for personal use, will be a large selection of late 19th and early 20th century pottery vessels for cooking and storage. Examples include property from the Arizona Science Center Museum, such as a Zuni polychrome jar, 1870-1880, with deer and bird imagery (est. $7,000-10,000); a very large Zuni canteen (est. $4,000-6,000); and a series of prehistoric Mimbres pictorial bowls, as well as pieces from a private Santa Fe, NM collection, such as a Zia polychrome storage bird jar (est. $6,000-9,000) and an Acoma four-color bird jar (est. $6,000-9,000).

From the Northwest Coast will be an early dagger, originally from the Hooper Collection, recently consigned from the Collection of Stuart Mills in Southern California (est. $60,000-90,000). Also from the Mills Collection is a classic Tlingit raven rattle (est. $30,000-50,000) and a selection of bentwood boxes and horn spoons (estimates vary). Likewise from the region will be a circa 1860s chillkat dancing blanket (est. $40,000-60,000), a hawk rattle (est. $15,000-20,000) and a feast bowl (est. $15,000-20,000).

From regions throughout California and Nevada will be a selection of basketry from a private family collection, including a Maidu cooking or storage basket (est. $4,000-6,000); along with fine examples of Panamint, Washo, Yokut and Mission weaving (estimates vary).

Rounding out the sale will be highlights from the Plains and Plateau regions, including a rare, detailed mirror stick, highly-regarded by its native users as a tool holding power and significance (est. $15,000-20,000). There also will be a Ute beaded shirt with a possible connection to Chief Ouray (est. $15,000-20,000) and a Sioux man’s shirt (est. $20,000-30,000). From the Plateau will be a pony-beaded girl’s dress (est. $20,000-40,000).

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