26-Inch-Tall Plains Indian Doll, ca. 1880

Value (2009) | $14,000 Auction$16,000 Auction

GUEST:
It was my mother's doll. I don't know where she got it. She never told me anything about it, but I've always found it quite fascinating. She was given the doll as a little girl. I don't know whether it was a present from somebody or it came down from the family. I don't know the answer to that.

APPRAISER:
Most of these dolls are 12 inches. This one is 26 inches tall, so it's got to be one of the biggest Plains Indian dolls I have ever seen. Looking at the beadwork and the designs, the way the moccasins are, I suspect it's Cheyenne. Now, whether it's northern or southern, I don't know. But it looks like a Cheyenne doll from the Plains. It probably dates to the 1870s or 1880s.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
This is from the horse culture of the Plains. The horse was what made them what they were. It changed their entire way of life. Whether it was made for an Indian or non-Indian, it's hard to say because it's completely traditional in the way it's made-- the stitching, the dress, and even the belt is made out of a saddle-tanned leather, which was a preferred belt material. The paint on the face is real unusual. And the hair's missing?

GUEST:
I have the hair at home, and it was hair. I mean, you could feel it was hair.

APPRAISER:
Human hair?

GUEST:
It might have been horse hair, but it was hair.

APPRAISER:
Okay, yeah.

GUEST:
And it had the beading around the braids. I'm glad you kept them.

APPRAISER:
The doll has some problems. Something's been spilled on it through here. And I don't know what was on it, but...

GUEST:
I don't either.

APPRAISER:
...it's stiffened the hide a little bit. Otherwise, it's in fairly good condition. The fringe is pretty complete. The beadwork's beautiful. And the colors are very different for this kind of doll. The colors are great.

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
It does need some work. It needs the hair put back on it, which, thank goodness, you have. It probably needs the hide worked a little bit by a professional conservator. As it is, if you just put it up for auction and put the hair with it, it would probably sell for $14,000 to $16,000. Now...

GUEST:
But I would never sell it.

APPRAISER:
Of course not, it's family. It's part of your family history.

GUEST:
I would never sell it.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
San Antonio, TX
Appraised value (2009)
$14,000 Auction$16,000 Auction
Event
Madison, WI (July 11, 2009)
Period
19th Century
Form
Doll
Material
Beads, Hair, Leather

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