Zuni Olla (Pot), ca. 1885

Value (2006) | $15,000 Retail$25,000 Retail

GUEST:
The pot came from my great aunt. She moved out to Tucson, Arizona for her health, in about the mid '60s, late '60s. And so while she was driving out there in Tucson, Arizona, she saw the pot on the side of the road, and she just picked it up.

APPRAISER:
Just lying on the side of the road?

GUEST:
Just lying on the side of the road.

APPRAISER:
That happens to me all the time.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
Have you done any work on this? Have you studied it or...?

GUEST:
Not at all. I really know nothing about it. She thought that it was a Navajo pot.

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
But one time when I was in the Field Museum, I saw a pot similar to it, under the Zuni display. And so I thought, well, it must not be Navajo, it must be Zuni.

APPRAISER:
Now, the first thing that we do is we look at the style. This is a classic rain bird design from the Zuni. The clay is Zuni. Now the shape is interesting. Feel this slope here. This is diagnostic for 1880 to 1890. Now, the other thing, in a lot of cases, condition is a big deal and I know that you noticed this damage. Actually, the damage is helpful to us -- a pot that's been used, is going to be damaged by the water. This is called an olla or a short-necked jar. When we measured it, we saw this was 14 and a quarter inches in diameter. That's very, very large. So now I guess we know it's real.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
So now the word is, what do you think it's worth?

GUEST:
Originally I thought it was maybe only about a hundred, a couple hundred dollars.

APPRAISER:
A couple hundred dollars.

GUEST:
Because it was so damaged. I thought it's not worth much.

APPRAISER:
All right, all right. I can do a little bit better than that.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
Zuni is really hot right now. I think you're looking at $15,000 to $25,000.

GUEST:
Oh, my gosh. That's unbelievable.

APPRAISER:
Now that's in a private gallery.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
I assume that your family wants to keep it.

GUEST:
Oh, yes.

APPRAISER:
You have to think about insurance. So I would say that you'd want to insure that on the high side, more like $25,000.

GUEST:
Okay. All right.

APPRAISER:
Did I make your day?

GUEST:
Yes.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Dallas, Texas
Appraised value (2006)
$15,000 Retail$25,000 Retail
Event
Milwaukee, WI (July 29, 2006)
Period
19th Century
Form
Pot
Material
Pottery
May 18, 2009: In this segment, appraiser John Buxton discusses a valuable Zuni olla, or pot, that the guest’s mother found on the side of the road while in Tucson, Arizona. About two years after this episode's original airing, a viewer wrote in to suggest that this type of olla was something that the Zuni people would have left as a marker for someone who had died or had been buried in that location. To find out more, we contacted Barton Wright, an expert on Zuni artifacts, who tells us that this particular olla would have had only utilitarian, not a ceremonial, purpose.

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