Maria Martinez Pots, ca. 1930
Appraised Value: $45,000 - $55,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:21)
GUEST: Well, these were gifts to my mother. They were given to her in 1957, in New Mexico. She had worked for a senator from New Mexico by the name of Chavez, trying to strengthen the legal standing of Indians at the time. So, in 1957, when we took a road trip, we stopped at a household where the people's name was Tafoya and these were given to her there.
APPRAISER: Do you know who made these pots?
GUEST: Uh, I know the name "Marie" on the bottom. I had thought they were somehow connected with Tafoyas.
APPRAISER: Do you know what town you were in or what village you were in with the Tafoyas?
GUEST: Uh, I was 13 and pretty much of a space cadet.
APPRAISER: I got you.
GUEST: Don't know.
APPRAISER: Well, actually... the Tafoyas did know Maria and Julian Martinez. And the Martinez family lived at San Ildefonso Pueblo. I believe the Tafoyas lived at Santa Clara, which was like, across the fence, literally. Uh, but... but you said you saw black pots in the Tafoya household?
GUEST: They were making some pots. One of the kids there showed me how they polished the surface with the smooth stones from gravel bed. And the pots were red before they fired them in these beehive-type ovens, and they showed me what it looked like coming out, which was this color.
APPRAISER: What these are is Maria Martinez pots from San Ildefonso Pueblo. Judging from the signature on the bottom, probably late '20s, early '30s. What this design is, it's the underwater serpent, Avanyu. And if you look, you see his face, and it goes all the way around the pot. This black on black is what's called a reduction firing, where they reduce the oxygen in the firing procedure and it turns them black. It's not a traditional Pueblo technique, it's something that the Martinezes learned in the early '20s, and became masters of it, and now it's completely identified with that pueblo. The signature's right on the bottom. If you look here, it says, "Marie." It's done the right way, right time period, all of that, and, uh, they could use a little cleaning. They've got some little abrasions, but nothing major. What do you want this appraisal for?
GUEST: Insurance. I've got my two kids. Whenever we're through with them, I'll give one to one and one to the other.
APPRAISER: Well, let me first tell you that the value is they're a pair. They're the only matched pair of this size of Maria pots I have ever seen any time. This is it-- this is the ultimate pair of Maria pots. The size is great, the water serpent. They're exactly matched-- not just a little matched-- they are exactly matched. You want to be able to go out and buy some new ones if you break them? You better start at $45,000 and go up to about $55,000.
GUEST: Wow. You're sure?
APPRAISER: I'm positive. I got on the telephone and called Santa Fe, and yes, I'm positive.
GUEST: No kidding?
GUEST: Well, I didn't have a clue. These have just been sitting on the top of the bookshelf gathering dust.
APPRAISER: Don't let them fall, okay?
GUEST: All right, all right.
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