Navajo Yei Weaving, ca. 1935
After World War II, my mother and father settled in Fort Lauderdale, and my father was a pilot, and one of his buddies, uh, either they bought about four rugs from him or either he gave them to them. And they've been sitting on the floor for about... till the '70s, late '70s. And at that point, a friend came from Nevada and mentioned that we should take the rugs off the floor. So, they did, but they never really looked into the value or this or that. When they passed away, I ended up getting them.
This is a Navajo weaving from the Navajo reservation in the southwest part of the United States, in Arizona. The history of Yei rugs really comes from the Navajo sand paintings, which were very religious. Now, this is a commercial product. And I can tell you, the Navajo were extremely reluctant to do anything for commercial purposes that referred back to their sand paintings because they were very religious. This tradition came out of the pictoral period in 1890. There was a guy named Will Evans that was a trader at the Ship Rock trading post from about 1912 to 1948. He is generally credited with starting the tradition of the Yei rugs. And this particular one, in my judgment, dates to about 1930, 1940. So it's fairly early in the tradition. These figures represent a Yei divinity or religious figures. You have the corn and you have... this is probably cotton here. This is generally called the rainbow Yei that encircles the whole thing. This is probably a rattle. Basically they're depicting a sacred Navajo man. In this particular period, they're dealing with aniline dyes, and those are dyes that were probably made in Germany and traded to the Navajos. So you get these very vibrant oranges and reds and greens. This is probably a natural here, as is this down here. So, it's just typical of this period. Now, what is really amazing about this is the condition. Generally when we talk about Navajo weavings, we talk about an A and a B side. And if you lift it up, you can see that there's very, very little fading on this side. The sun can kill these things. And this is almost in pristine condition. You do have some small spots. You should never clean these on your own and always go to a professional Navajo rug cleaner. Generally speaking, this is in excellent condition on both sides. So I'm going to call it two A sides. This is a very, very tight weaving. So, in my judgment, this really represents one of the finest Yei rugs we've had on the ROADSHOW. I am absolutely amazed that this was on the floor at all and it's in this kind of condition. We had a little bit of a debate on the table. There were a couple of us that thought this was in the $3,000 to $5,000 range. There was one appraiser that felt it could go a little bit higher, $6,000 to $8,000. Now, that would be a price that you'd expect to find in a gallery-- a gallery in Santa Fe or New York or San Francisco. It's a really special piece.
I'm glad I didn't spill anything on it as a kid.
I am too.
Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.
Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.
Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.
Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.
Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.
Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.