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    Mid-19th Century Navajo Ute First Phase Blanket

    Appraised Value:

    $350,000 - $500,000

    Appraised on: June 9, 2001

    Appraised in: Tucson, Arizona

    Appraised by: Donald Ellis

    Category: Tribal Arts

    Episode Info: Greatest Finds (#814)

    Originally Aired: May 3, 2004

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 3 Next 

    More Like This:

    Form: Blanket
    Material: Wool
    Period / Style: 19th Century
    Value Range: $350,000 - $500,000

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    Appraisal Video: (3:53)


    Appraised By:

    Donald Ellis
    Tribal Arts

    Appraisal Transcript:
    GUEST: I don't know an awful lot about it, except that, uh, it was given by Kit Carson-- given to the foster father of my grandmother.

    APPRAISER: And do you know who made this weaving? Do you know what kind of blanket it is?

    GUEST: It's probably a Navajo, but that's about all I know.

    APPRAISER: So you haven't had anybody look at it, or...

    GUEST: Nobody's ever looked at it that I'm aware of.

    APPRAISER: Well, Ted, did you notice when you showed this to me that I kind of stopped breathing a little bit?

    GUEST: Yeah, you did!

    APPRAISER: I'm still having trouble breathing here, Ted.

    GUEST: It took me by surprise, because I, you know, didn't think much about it. It's probably a chief's blanket, but...

    APPRAISER: Exactly, and it's not just a chief's blanket. It's the first type of chief's blanket made. These were made in about 1840 to 1860, and it's called a Ute, first phase.

    GUEST: A Ute?

    APPRAISER: A Ute first-phase wearing blanket. It's Navajo-made. They were made for Ute chiefs. This is Navajo weaving in its purest form. All of these things that we see later with diamonds and all kinds of different patterns comes much later than this. This is just pure linear design. This is the beginning of Navajo weaving.

    GUEST: Wow.

    APPRAISER: And not only that, the condition of this is unbelievable, unbelievable. We see these... We've got a little bit of damage over there. In spite of the damage, it's unbelievable. An interesting thing: this is almost like silk. It's made from hand-woven wool, but it's so finely done, it's like silk. It would repel water. And this, here, is dyed with indigo dyes. It was a very valuable dye at the time. And what's really interesting is right here we have an old repair that was probably done in the 1860s, and it's done with raveled bayeta, which is, in itself, a very important thing in Navajo weaving. So, all involved, it's an extraordinary piece of art. It's extremely rare. It is the most important thing that's come into the ROADSHOW that I've seen. Do you have a sense at all of what you're looking at here in terms of value?

    GUEST: I haven't a clue.

    APPRAISER: Are, uh, are you a wealthy man, Ted?

    GUEST: No.

    APPRAISER: Well, sir, um, I'm still a little nervous here, I have to tell you. Uh, on a really bad day, this textile would be worth $350,000. On a good day, it's about a half a million dollars.

    GUEST: Oh, my God!

    APPRAISER: And you had no idea?

    GUEST: I had no idea. (voice breaking) It was laying on the back of a chair.

    APPRAISER: Well, sir, you have a national treasure.

    GUEST: Wow!

    APPRAISER: A national treasure. When you walked in with this, I just about died. Congratulations.

    GUEST: Gee!

    APPRAISER: Congratulations.

    GUEST: I can't believe this!

    APPRAISER: Now, the value of this that I'm giving is not using the Kit Carson provenance. Provenance is sometimes very difficult to ascertain. If... if we could do research on this and we could prove without a reasonable doubt that Kit Carson did actually own this, um, the value would increase again, maybe 20%.

    GUEST: Wow. Can't believe it. My grandmother... you know, were poor farmers. They didn't... she had... Her foster father had started some gold mills and, you know, discovered gold and everything, but there was no wealth, no wealth in the family at all. Boy! (choking up) I can't believe it!

    APPRAISER: Congratulations.

    GUEST: Thank you. Gee... boy...

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