Modern Mexican Figurines

Value (2013) | $20 Retail$30 Retail
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GUEST:
I acquired these items in 1977 from a family that was moving from Idaho back to Mexico. I have 31 pieces, and they were all recovered from a prayer cave on the property.

APPRAISER:
All right, and so what have you learned about the pieces?

GUEST:
I've had them inspected by several experts. Three of the staff at Brigham Young University looked at the objects approximately 20 years ago and authenticated them, giving me a date of a pre-classic period on the bulk of them, which is prior to 700 A.D. But some of the items predate Christ.

APPRAISER:
Did any of the scholars give you any documentation? Any letters, anything written on the objects?

GUEST:
Nothing written. They just looked at them and instantly said, "There's no question that they're original."

APPRAISER:
Okay. I want you to understand in the authentication process, what we do is we consider the collection history, any sort of research that you've done, and then the next phase is looking at them stylistically. And when you look at this stone piece and you look at how the nose is treated and the eyes and the mouth, and then over here on this object, how this is treated-- and "stylistically" means what do the eyes look like, the nose, how are the arms treated, what about this iconography-- this is very strange, stylistically.

GUEST:
That's what they told me,

APPRAISER:
…very, very different. It's very atypical, very strange. The second part of the authentication process is looking at the surface. Does the surface make sense? And looking at the surface of both of these and how each thing is carved, they're very particular pieces in the manner in which they're not only carved, but what they're carved from. So what is your feeling about the authenticity?

GUEST:
I trust the information that I got from the people... They were going to take them to BYU and donate them to the museum as they went back to Mexico because they knew they wouldn't be able to bring them back out of the country, and I had to haggle with them hard and heavy to get them to let me have them.

APPRAISER:
So what do you think about the value on these pieces?

GUEST:
I have no idea. None of the people would give me a value. They said the collection is very unique, and the clay figurines, they said they really honestly have never seen anything like that.

APPRAISER:
Did you receive these as a gift or did you actually buy them?

GUEST:
I purchased them for $500.

APPRAISER:
$500 for the entire collection?

GUEST:
For the entire collection, yeah.

APPRAISER:
And that was 31 pieces?

GUEST:
Yeah, 31 pieces, and that was in 1977.

APPRAISER:
Unfortunately, with my experience of nearly four decades, both of these pieces are reproductions. This piece, I've seen so many of these pieces from Mexico that are carved exactly in this manner, exactly in this kind of stone. As to these pieces, I bet in my career I must have seen 2,000 or 3,000. And all of these are sundried and they're sold to the tourist market. I have no idea why the scholars said what they said to you, but I can tell you that both of these are contemporary pieces, they're 20th century, and the value on these each would be in the $10 to $15 range. Again, we really appreciate your bringing them in.

GUEST:
Well, thanks very much, I appreciate your time.

APPRAISER:
Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Dallas, TX
Appraised value (2013)
$20 Retail$30 Retail
Event
Boise, ID (June 29, 2013)
Period
20th Century
Form
Figurine
Material
Clay

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