Published: October 9, 2018
Auction Action In Cincinnati, Ohio
CINCINNATI, OHIO – A superb collection of American Indian artifacts and contemporary American Indian art from across the country bolstered an already impressive catalog in Cowan’s September 21 American Indian & Western: Premier Auction. The collection of William H. Saunders, MD and Putzi Saunders accounted for more than $320,000 of the day’s $919,769 total, including half of the top ten lots of the day. For six hours, more than 600 bidders bid in-person, over the phone or on one of three online bidding platforms on 430 lots offered. This marked the final American Indian & Western Art Premier Auction of 2018 at Cowan’s.
“Bill and Putzi had such a magnificent eye for quality across an impressive array of categories, it’s really no surprise their items did well all day long,” said Danica Farnand, Cowan’s director of American Indian & Western Art. “Collections like these are why I love my job. It was such a treat getting to work with so many unique, beautiful pieces of every shape and size.”
Private collectors from Ohio, William and Putzi Saunders assembled a highly coveted collection featuring a wide variety of western and Native American pieces focusing on contemporary works across multiple categories. The auction featured 87 lots from the collection, including artifacts, beadwork, basketry, pottery, pipes, totem poles, Katsinas and sculptures. The Saunders were the original owners of many of the art offered, and collectors were clearly excited at the prospect of getting their hands on the fresh-to-market and Indian Market award winners.
The top lot of the collection – and of the auction itself – was a Tlingit Chilkat blanket. Woven in the early 1900s of mountain goat wool in colors of blue, yellow, cream and brown, the blanket depicts a man surrounded by totemic imagery. Five phone bidders battled with an internet bidder for several minutes before the piece sold for $45,600.
“Overall, these blankets have been doing well recently, but I was eager for collectors to see this one,” said Farnand. “It’s the epitome of the form in pristine condition. Add in the fact that it was a part of the Saunders collection, and we had a pretty good idea that it was going to do a lot better than its estimate.”
Another artifact from the collection, a Pueblo painted buffalo hide shield with cover, marked the second highest sales price of the day selling for $38,400. From the early Nineteenth Century, the 23-inch shield is decorated with iconography of two Avanyu, or water serpents, flanking a central hourglass element. Sold with the shield was a painted hide cover decorated with buffalo and raincloud imagery. Other artifacts of note from the collection included a Crow beaded buffalo hide rifle scabbard, which sold for $19,200, and a Navajo Germantown weaving for $14,760.
The bulk of the Saunders collection was comprised of contemporary art pieces from Native American and Western artists. The top lot of the group was an acrylic painting on canvas titled “War Dance” by John Nieto (American, b 1936) that was signed and dated 1993. The large, brightly colored painting depicting a Native American mid-dance sold for $15,600.
The auction included a significant group of sculptures from the collection in a variety of sizes, materials and ages. The top sculpture of the day was a large, bronze sculpture by Tammy Garcia (Santa Clara, b 1969) titled “Abundance.” Measuring just shy of 5 feet tall, the sculpture sold for $12,000.
Other sculptures of note from the collection included a stone sculpture by David Ruben Piqtoukun (Inuit, b 1950) titled “The Hunter’s Memories” that sold for $7,800; another Garcia bronze piece titled “Thunderbird” for $5,535; and an Allan Houser (Apache, 1914-1994) bronze sculpture titled “Almost Asleep?” for $3,900.
The Saunders had a keen eye when it came to pottery, and the auction featured more than 20 lots from the collection, many of which were Indian Market award winners. The top seller from this group was a Rondina Huma (Hopi-Tewa, b 1947) pottery bowl that blew past its estimate ($6/800) before selling for $7,200.
Other top sellers from the group included a double award-winning redware wedding vase by Richard Ebelacker (Santa Clara, 1946-2010) that sold for $5,400; an Al Qoyawayma (Hopi, b 1938) jar for $4,800; a Nathan Youngblood (Santa Clara, b 1954) redware vase for $4,800; and a double award-winning corrugated jar by Adrianna Roy-Keene (Acoma, b 1956) for $3,690.
Highlights from outside of the Saunders collection included another Tlingit Chilkat blanket which sold for $22,200; a monumental carved blackware pottery jar by Margaret Tafoya (Santa Clara, 1904-2001) for $19,200; a Navajo Klagetoh roomsize weaving for $14,760; an Athabaskan beaded hide hunting tunic with hood for $14,400; another John Nieto (American, b 1936) acrylic piece, this one titled “He Frightens,” for $13,200; a Mastof Katsina by Wilson Tawaquaptewa (Hopi, 1871-1960) for $12,000; and a Tony Da (San Ildefonso, 1940-2008) bronze bowl for $10,200.
All prices include buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. The dates for next year’s spring and fall Premier Auctions have yet to be determined. For information, www.cowanauctions.com or 513-871-1670.
This bronze sculpture titled “Abundance” by Tammy Garcia (Santa Clara, b 1969) sold solidly within estimate ($10/15,000), for $12,000.
“War Dance” by John Nieto closed just ahead of its estimate ($10/15,000), at $15,600.
The third highest price in the sale was $19,200, which was paid for this Crow beaded buffalo hide rifle scabbard.
Leading the sale, and the Saunders collection, was this Tlingit Chilkat blanket, circa 1900, selling for $45,600.
Taking second place honors was this Pueblo painted buffalo hide shield with cover, early Nineteenth Century, realizing $38,400.
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