Museum-Quality Early 1900s Native American Kiowa Cradleboard Realizes $103,500

This museum-quality early 20th century Native American Kiowa cradleboard realized $103,500 at a two-day “Best of Santa Fe 2013” sale held Aug. 9-10 by Allard Auctions, Inc., much more than the expected $20,000 to $40,000 presale estimate.

SANTA FE, N.M. – A museum-quality, early 20th century Native American Kiowa cradleboard with beaded accents and original boards sailed past its pre-sale estimate of $20,000-$40,000 to realize $103,500 at a two-day “Best of Santa Fe 2013” sale held Aug. 9-10 by Allard Auctions, Inc.

The cradleboard, measuring 46 inches by 12 inches by 10 inches, was in fine condition. It had been consigned by a man in his late 90s who still remembered playing with the item as a toy in the 1920s, when he was a boy. It was later given to him by his grandmother. He had displayed the cradleboard in his home for most of the past 70-plus years before deciding to part with it.

In all, nearly 850 lots came up for bid in an auction that grossed about $517,000. Items included original Native and Western art, historic beadwork, vintage Indian jewelry, Pueblo and prehistoric pottery, Native American basketry, kachina carvings, Navajo rugs and weavings, antique tradebeads, old photographs, Northwest Coast and Eskimo items. Of those, 716 sold.

“This was a great beadwork and basket auction, a truly exciting event with eager bidders and wonderful merchandise,” said Steve Allard, owner of Allard Auctions, whose home offices are on the Flathead Indian Reservation in St. Ignatius, Mont. “The market is especially strong for the better pieces, which command strong prices. We have no problem at all selling top-of-the-line items and fortunately for us we attract a good many of those to our sales.”

About 150 people attended the two-day auction, which was held at the Scottish Rites Hall in Santa Fe, while another 265 registered to bid online, via iCollector and Auctionzip. Phone bidding was permitted only for lots carrying a low estimate of at least $500, but it was brisk nonetheless.

Following are additional highlights for the auction (all prices quoted include a 15-percent buyer’s premium for in-house bidding or a 20-percent premium for online and phone bidding):

This rare and beautiful sinew-sewn and lazy stitch beaded Sioux saddle drape, circa early 1900s, hammered for $4,600.

• One other lot in the catalog topped the $10,000 mark. It was an expertly hand-carved and painted three-figure totem pole, executed in the mid to late 1800s and standing 37 inches tall, showing a raven, a beaver and a bear ($10,350). Also, a rare and beautiful early 1900s Sioux saddle drape, sinew-stitched with lazy stitch beading, done in the traditional style, made $4,600;

• A late classic, second-phase variant Germantown Chief’s blanket, woven from Bayeta, Churro and Germantown yarns, circa 1880s, sturdy and intact, with an exceptionally fine tight weave (80 inches by 55 ½ inches), brought $8,625; and a rare Navajo Germantown pictorial sampler rug, on the original loom and showing a train (circa late 1880s) brought $4,600, quite a surprise considering the pre-sale estimate was just $300-$600;

• A fantastic fully beaded Sioux cradleboard with traditional tribal designs in very good condition, made circa 1900 and measuring 10 inches by 27 inches, and with a picture from 1968 included, breezed to $7,475; and an excellent 24-inch-long Central Plains beaded hide cradleboard with a doll that had one child’s moccasin tied on, made circa 1880-1910, garnered $4,025;

This late 19th-century photo by Edward S. Curtis, titled “At the Old Well of Acoma,” framed, sold for $4,600.

• An original late-1800s gold tone photograph by renowned photographer Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952), titled “At the Old Well of Tacoma,” in the original frame and with the original Curtis Studio label on the back, signed, 8 inches by 10 inches, fetched $4,600; and an album collection of 45 early 1900s photos, taken by Edward H. Boos from Missoula, Mont., realized $3,450;

• A pair of baskets hammered for identical prices of $3,162. One was a museum-quality, hard-sided oval-shaped Klickitat basket with imbricated exterior showing am intricate geometric diamond pattern on the sides and floral devices on the ends. The other was a classically-shaped, sturdy weave Apache basket (olla) with rows of zigzag bands, made sometime around the 1930s;

• Five other lots also went for $3,162. The first was a large (42-inch by 54-inch) Navajo Red Mesa rug (or weaving), dazzling to the eye and with outlined elements, made in the 1930s. It had some minor bleed but was overall in good condition. The second was a huge flared basketry bowl with rattlesnake and stacked arrow design, made in the early 1900s, in near mint condition. The third was a rare woven and beaded Yakima dentallium wedding veil, the headpiece adorned with foreign coins, abalone discs and shell beads, in very good condition, made in the early 1900s. The fourth was a scarce and old-style Blackfeet feather war bonnet with canvas cap and sinew sewn and lazy stitched beaded brow band, circa late 1880s, in very good condition.The fifth was a Zuni Concho belt with incredible stone-to-stone overlay kachinas on a jet background done in different styles, circa 1980s, 42 inches long, with great patina, in very good condition. Also, a signed, mid-20th century cased-in painting by Harrison Begay (1914-2012), depicting Yei Bei Chai dancers below the invoked Yei deities, 31 inches by 42 inches, framed.

This Navajo Germantown rug (or pictorial sampler weaving) on its original loom, circa late 1800s, also garnered $4,600.

• A huge Papago basket (storage olla), covered with many geometric forms and other interesting symbols, figures and letters, 19 inches by 20 inches made in the mid-1900s, rose to $1,955; and a gorgeous vintage Hopi low-profile polychrome pottery jar with nice patina, signed on the bottom “Nampeyo, Fannie” (possibly by the owner), made circa 1940s, garnered $1,610.

• Prehistoric Mimbres pottery bowls featured a classic thin-walled black-on-white deep bowl with rare cat (or cat-like) figure, partially restored, in very good condition ($1.955); a small boldface black-on-white pottery “Herd Bowl” filled with figures, also partly restored ($1,610); and a Mogollon Mimbres red-on-white bowl with rare bird designs, also partly restored ($1,610).

Allard Auctions, Inc.’s next big sale will be the “Big Fall Phoenix Auction,” slated for Nov. 9-10, in Mesa, Ariz. The auction will feature American Indian artifacts, art and related collectibles, to include several pieces of old Sioux and Plains beadwork from a private Minneapolis collector, a Plains quilled cradleboard, basketry, several nice vests, a beaded Woodlands (or scout) jacket, and many other fine items.

Allard Auctions, Inc., has been selling exclusively American Indian artifacts and art at auction since 1968. The firm is always accepting quality merchandise for future auctions. To inquire about consigning a single piece, an estate or an entire collection, call 406.745.0500 or 888.314.0343, e-mail to or visit the Allard Auctions website.

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