Native American war shirt sells for $115,000 at auction

Jun 12, 2014
Northern Plains Hidatsa buckskin shirt sold for $115,000.

Thomaston — The auction floor was energized at Thomaston Place Auction Galleries as items from a collection of late 19th-century Plains Indian beaded buckskin items came to the floor at their May 31 and June 1 feature sale and obliterated their pre-sale estimates.

“These museum quality Native American pieces drew strong interest because of their fine craftsmanship and excellent provenance, having descended in a Portland, Maine family. We are also very pleased with the performance of other items in the sale, such as some of the great paintings and sculpture, oriental pieces, and important ephemera," said Owner and Auctioneer Kaja Veilleux in a news release.

The undisputed star of the sale was a Northern Plains Indian Hidatsa buckskin shirt with dyed quill and seed decoration, long fringe and buffalo hair tassels which quickly surpassed its $20,000 to $30,000 estimate and raised $115,000.

Other high flying Native American lots included: a circa 1880 Lakota Sioux hickory bow and 15 arrows that brought $25,875; a group of two beaded buckskin pouches, including a Lakota Sioux medicine bag and a Mandan paint pouch, that sold for $14,950; and a lot containing a Lakota Sioux buffalo hide beaded knife sheath and Hidatsa buckskin holster that also fetched $14,950.

A beautiful oil on canvas painting, “Where the Blackbirds Nest”, by James Taylor Harwood (UT/CA, 1860-1940) topped the fine art category, bringing $57,500. A large still life painting with grapes by William Mason Brown (NY/NJ, 1828-1898) wowed the auction crowd when aggressive bidding raised the selling price to $20,125, and a circa 1830 oil on panel Prior-Hamblin School portrait of a young girl in a white dress shot past its $2,000 to $3,000 pre-sale estimate and reached $16,100. An oil on canvas portrait of a young man, dated 1837, by Thomas Sully (UK/PA, 1783-1872) also had strong appeal and sold for $10,350.

Several outstanding pieces of three-dimensional art brought strong prices, including a pair of 20th-century Chinese life-size bronze garden figures of geese from the estate of Brooke Astor that brought $12,650, and a Gothic ivory standing figure of Madonna and Child with scepter and orb that fetched $9,775.

A variety of treasures from the East also performed well in the sale. Bidding for a 17th Century or earlier Iznik (Turkish) architectural tile opened with a bid of $10,000 and ultimately sold for $39,100. Two fine Chinese lots attracted strong bidder interest and ultimately brought $8,050 each -- an Export porcelain garniture set with Mandarin panel scenes, and a 17th Century bronze Warring States form floor vase.

Several lots containing correspondence from Bataille Muse (1751-1803), a prominent Virginia lawyer with connections to George Washington, brought strong prices. The top lot was a group of documents that included four personal record transcriptions of letters to Washington from Muse that sold for $11,212.50. A collection of 37 pieces of correspondence between Muse and Ferdinando Fairfax (1766-1820), Virginia landowner and godson of George & Martha Washington, brought $6,900.

Many pieces of estate jewelry also fared well in the auction. An 18K white gold, diamond and emerald necklace reached $28,750; and a platinum, diamond and cushion cut blue sapphire ring fetched $13,225.

A complete list of auction results can be found at thomastonauction.com.

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