Late 19th-Century Tlingit Raven Rattle
Appraised Value: $30,000 - $45,000 (2013)
IMAGE: 1 of 4
Appraisal Video: (2:01)
Antiques Appraiser and Consultant,, Specialist, American Indian Art and Ethnographica
GUEST: This was left to me by my great-uncle. It originated from John Muir.
APPRAISER: John Muir the...
GUEST: The naturalist, right.
APPRAISER: The naturalist, conservationist, and the founder of the Sierra Club.
GUEST: Exactly right. Turns out he's the older brother of my great-great-grandfather. It was handed down through the generations.
APPRAISER: Well, John Muir, who was born in Scotland, moved to the United States in 1849, to Wisconsin. This piece is from the Tlingit of Alaska. John Muir was in Glacier Bay. This was probably collected at the time that he was there and that was in the late 1870's.
APPRAISER: And this is a rattle. What did you do in your spare time with this?
GUEST: We played with it.
APPRAISER: I noticed it lost a limb.
GUEST: It did lose a limb. That predated my ownership. That was my great-uncle. Speaking with him later in his life, his regret was, he lost the limb. We weren't able to repair it.
APPRAISER: Well, it's referred to as a raven rattle. And it was carried by men of high rank for dances or it was used by a shaman in a ceremonial purpose. The paint on it is beautiful. You have the raven, the frog and the human depiction on there. It's a raven catching the sun. In their lives with the animals in the region, there was a transformational characteristic going on. A lot of it was subjective. A Tlingit rattle of this age, nature and collection history... I mean, John Muir is a hero in the naturalist movement and today, people still follow his writings. At auction, it would probably bring $30,000.
APPRAISER: An insurance value would probably be in the $45,000 range.
GUEST: (laughing) That's... I need to insure it.
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