Published: September 28, 2016
CINCINNATI, OHIO — An Otoe ball club attained $102,000 at Cowan’s American Indian and Western art fall auction September 23 to lead a sale distinguished with robust prices. Made from a single piece of walnut, the club is decorated with 178 brass tacks. Carved at the head is an otter or “underwater panther,” while a crooked lance is incised on the handle.
The consignor, who had inherited the club from a friend whose grandfather discovered it in a dump, was on hand to watch the action. “As the prices just kept going up and up, I just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “Truth be told, I still can’t believe it.”
“It’s a rare piece,” said Danica Farnand, Cowan’s director of American Indian Art. “Not only is it a war club but it’s also imbued with the power of the ‘Underwater Panther.’ It has a lot of iconographic elements to it and it’s an early Native American object. Obviously we’re overjoyed with the price, but it’s no surprise that such a terrific piece would do this well.”
Bidding for the club opened at $30,000 but quickly escalated as multiple phone and live bidders drove prices above the estimated value. The bidding eventually came down to two phone bidders who went back and forth for several rounds before the hammer finally fell selling the club for $102,000.
Overall, it was a good day for woodworking as two wood sculptures sold for well above estimates. A Haida model argillite totem pole, possibly the work of Charles Edenshaw (Haida, 1839–1920), sold for $54,000 while a Patrocinio Barela (New Mexican, circa 1900–1964) wood sculpture sold for $36,000. Both lots had prolonged bidding wars between two phone bidders sending their prices more than $25,000 above estimate.
As always, beadwork was well received with a Teton Sioux beaded and quilled hide war shirt selling for $51,000; a Cheyenne beaded Buffalo hide cradle from an important Denver collector going for $22,215; and Pawnee beaded hide leggings from an important Denver collector selling for $15,000.
For more information, www.cowanauctions.com or 513-871-1670.
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