Acoma Olla, ca. 1927
Appraised Value: $8,000 - $12,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:12)
Antiques Appraiser and Consultant
GUEST: It was in a cabin that my father-in-law's family owned. He had inherited it from a professor at a college. My father-in-law had driven the professor and the professor's mother on a trip to New Mexico. And he was just the young guy along, I think, to drive.
APPRAISER: And what was the date of the trip?
GUEST: That was in the late '20s. It was 1927 or '28. The only documentation I have is his word of mouth that they were filming the movie Red Skin at the time he was there, and that came out in '29, and so I think it was in 1928. I know this is a large olla, I think is what they call it. "O-ya?"
GUEST: And they were storage jars, essentially.
APPRAISER: It really is important to take all this family history and to write it down and keep a letter with the pot so that it's never lost. I think this pot was pretty new when they bought it. So I think the pot dates about 1928, 1927 when they made the trip.
APPRAISER: The Acoma Pueblo, which is in New Mexico, is unique for the type of clay that they use and for their pottery, which tends to be very thin-walled, and the clay has sort of a white-ish color to it. And it is diagnostic for Acoma pots to have this border where the bottom portion of the piece is in this orangey color. The surface is extremely fragile. So when I first saw this thing come out of the box, I was really surprised that even though we have a few areas up here at the shoulder where the surface is breaking down, it's in extraordinary condition for something that's this big. And when you have the walls that are as thin as they are in an Acoma, it really is a virtuosity to be able to pull off a pot like this. So the potter really knew what he was doing. All of these designs evolved from prehistoric pottery in the area. You can see these triangle, geometric motifs repeated in some of the prehistoric pots.
GUEST: So you're saying that where this is kind of dark, that's a breakdown of the...
APPRAISER: Yeah, it's...
GUEST: Okay, I thought it was from smoke from a chimney or something.
APPRAISER: No, no.
GUEST: Oh, okay.
APPRAISER: But it's still, it's in great, great condition. Especially when you have a pot that's this big, always pick it up by two hands. Never pick it up by the rim.
GUEST: (laughing) Which you saw me do, or I did do, yeah.
APPRAISER: Now, see, I wasn't going to say that on camera.
GUEST: (laughing) Okay.
APPRAISER: But never do that because, I mean, I've seen people come away with a handful of rim and the pot is on the floor. So it's really important to always take it with two hands.
APPRAISER: Smaller Acoma pots, especially ones that have a little bit of damage, tend to not go for a great deal of money. This sort of pot, at auction or at a good gallery in Santa Fe, I think would bring $8,000 to $12,000. These big pots in this condition are so rare. You have a really, really special piece.
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