Early 20th-Century Hopi Pottery Jar

Value (2007) | $1,800 Auction$30,000 Auction

I was at a yard sale in northern Michigan and I paid three dollars for it.

What inspired you to buy it?

I'm really attracted to Native American materials-- pottery, rugs.

Well, this is one of those objects that's rich with potential. It is a Hopi pot. It's from a Southwestern pueblo. It's from the First Mesa. The distinction of Hopi pottery is that the clay, actually... it has a very wooden sound. It tends to be very porous and it tends to be very thick. And this has all of those attributes. And then the black mineral paint that's on here is quite lovely. Would you call that redware?

It is a redware. And it could be the work of the premier potter of the Hopi. Her name was Nampeyo. And she was born in the late 1800s, and around the 1900s, they were excavating below the mesa a early 1300s site called Sikyatki, and she became enamored and influenced by the designs of the shards of the pottery that they were finding at these excavations of her culture. So she began a revival of the Hopi pottery movement. This could be one of her works. It's typical of the time; it has the age, it has some of her famous attributes. This is actually a bear paw, and it was a very favored design element of Nampeyo. The interesting thing about Nampeyo, she was also considered one of the prettiest girls on the mesa. So, to our advantage, she was photographed a lot. So as her fame grew internationally as a potter, even more pictures were taken of her. So the process of determining if this is really her work will be aided by people who specialize in Nampeyo pottery. There's a really rich potential it could be, and that's because of the sensitivity of the design layout. It's somewhat of an awkward shape. As I turn it, you can see the way it lops. And they refer to these as seed jars. But also there's a sensibility to it that's very charming. I think if this was to come to auction and it's not a Nampeyo-- it's just a fine example of a Hopi pottery from the 1930s, '40s time period, possibly even the '20s-- it would have a value of probably about $1,800 to $2,000. Now, if we can prove that it's Nampeyo, at auction, she stands to bring anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000. Thank you for bringing this in today.

That would be wonderful.

It was delightful, and I hope it turns out for the very best.

Yes, thank you very much.

Appraisal Details

Franklin, TN
Appraised value (2007)
$1,800 Auction$30,000 Auction
Louisville, KY (July 28, 2007)
Tribal Arts

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