A grandfather's long-ignored collection of Indian art and artifacts could bring a New Jersey family more than $125,000 when 203 lots from the famed Valentine "Val" Pasvolsky cross the block Nov. 15 at Heritage Auctions
. The American Indian Art Signature® Auction is led by a rare Sioux Boy's Pictorial Beaded and Fringed Hide Shirt, with a note on the hide tying it to the Battle of Little Big Horn, which is estimated to bring $30,000+
It wasn't until Delia E. Sullivan, Director, Senior Specialist of American Indian Art at Heritage, opened the boxes that Pasvolsky's grandchildren realized just how important the collection truly was. Sullivan was the first specialist to see the collection in nearly two decades.
"It's likely the hobby won't see another collection like this for a decade or more," Sullivan said. "There are some really wonderfully important things in this collection. A find like this only happens once or twice in a career."
Tucked away for decades was a Pair of Southeast Beaded Hide Moccasins, estimated to bring $20,000+, a Crow Painted Parfleche Medicine Case, which could sell for $7,000+, and a Plateau Beaded Hide Cradleboard, which could bring $8,000+.
Pasvolsky was an U.S. Army sergeant when he made a name for himself from the 1950s through the 1970s as a generous and ambitious numismatist who regularly took top honors in coin shows throughout New England, Canada and the U.K. He was honored by the American Numismatic Association in 1975. His passion for both numismatics and American Indian art started shortly after immigrating to the United States from Russia at age 14. He collected primarily between the 1930s and 1970s. His collection includes rarities from across North America, with particular emphasis on tribes of the North East with selections of South American tribal art as well. At one point, Pasvolsky made headlines nationwide for owning a vest worn by the Apache Chief Geronimo.
By the early 1960s, he and his wife had turned an 18-room house in Lakewood, N.J. into The Indian Village Museum & Trading Post, a roadside attraction and museum. Pasvolsky regularly brought his entire family to county fairs, schools and scout troop meetings, complete with a tee-pee and full headdress, shirts and pants.
Highlights from the 203 lots from The Valentine Pasvolsky Collection also include:
A collection of 16 rare studio portraits of Crow Indians, mounted on board, originating from Montana, 1909. Estimate: $3,000+.
An Apache Beaded Hide Male Doll with painted and beaded facial features, circa 1885. Estimate: $1,000+.
A Santee Sioux Beaded Hide Vest, circa 1890, decorated on the front with abstract floral/foliate motifs stitched in shades of blue, green, yellow, and pink. Estimate: $4,000+.
A Blackfoot Beaded Hide Shirt, circa 1915, with eight-point stars alternating with "fringed" hourglass motifs. Estimate: $8,000+.
Additionally, the Nov. 15 auction presents a strong selection of early art and pre-Columbian pieces, to include a rare Prairie Grizzly Bear Claw Necklace, circa 1835, which could sell for $20,000+, a large Veraguas Gold Pendant representing an eagle, circa 900-1200 AD, and estimated to bring $18,000+, and an Eastern Woodlands Carved Wood Belt Cup, circa 1760 and depicting two beavers, a sailing ship and two flintlock guns, which could hammer for $10,000+.
Among the notable collections in the auction is a group of American Indian art formerly owned by artist Eanger Irving Couse, including an Apache Coiled Storage Jar, circa 1920, estimated to sell for $2,000+, and a Santa Clara Blackware Pitcher, circa 1910, and once used as a model in hundreds of paintings by the artist, is expected to bring $1,000+.