Eskimo Hunting Helmet, ca. 1820

Value (2012) | $100,000 Retail$125,000 Retail
Watch  

GUEST 1: Well, I have to say, we thought... we were so embarrassed when we got there because we kept going, "Well, we don't know anything about it. "What are we going to say? Should we even bring it?" So we didn't even know if we were going to bring it. And Grandpa bought it at the flea market, what, about...

GUEST 2: I'd say 20, 25 years ago.

GUEST 1: Yeah.

APPRAISER:
So it was bought at a flea market here in California.

GUEST 1: Yeah, in San Jose. He went every Sunday, as long as I can remember, and went to the flea market every morning.

APPRAISER:
Well, what you have here, what your grandfather found, is an exceptionally rare Eskimo hunting helmet.

GUEST 2: Well, can I interject something here? This is really wonderful, because my father went to Alaska when he was a young person, I would say 16, 17 years old, and always had an interest in Alaska, and suspected that this might have come from the Aleutians or something like that.

APPRAISER:
Well, it actually comes from an area just south of the Aleutian Islands. There are in fact less than 25 of these known to exist in the world today. Coincidentally, there have been, in the 22 years I've been in business, four of these in the marketplace. These were very magical objects to the Eskimo people. They were used when they were hunting out in the ocean, the Arctic Ocean, to hunt sea mammals. And they imbued tremendous spirituality and spirit in these helmets. And they were actually made to sort of replicate the animals that they were going to be hunting. This object is made from a single piece of wood that is quite miraculously split, steamed and bent, and then sewn with sinew, and then decorated with ivory. Showing animal figures here, and here we have little Russian trade bead eyes insert into the middle. It has little condition problems. It's missing a few things. However, given how rare this object is-- in the last year, there have been two of these sold at public auction. There was one that my gallery purchased. We purchased the example for $66,000 American dollars. We were the underbidder at $140,000 American. This example is a little... needs a little restoration. It does. It has Scotch tape on it. I noticed that somebody's done quite a restoration job with Scotch tape here. That's Grandpa. It obviously holds a high position in your house. With restoration, I would anticipate the retail value is in the neighborhood of $65,000 to $75,000.

GUEST 2: Well, that's wonderful. And I do have to ask, how old is this?

APPRAISER:
This is from very early in the 19th century, perhaps 1820.

GUEST 1: We almost decided to go home before even showing you this.

APPRAISER:
Congratulations.

GUEST 1: Oh, my goodness, thank you.

GUEST 2: Oh, Donald, thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Donald Ellis Gallery
Dundas, ON, Canada
Update (2012)
$100,000 Retail$125,000 Retail
Update (2012)
$60,000 Retail$80,000 Retail
Appraised value (1997)
$65,000 Retail$75,000 Retail
Event
San Francisco, CA (August 09, 1997)
Period
19th Century
Form
Helmet
Material
Beads, Ivory, Wood
October 31, 2011: A viewer's recent email regarding an appraisal of an Inupiaq cribbage board prompted us to review past appraisals that mentioned Eskimo culture.

It is ANTIQUES ROADSHOW's intention to use culturally respectful terms when discussing the history of items being appraised on the show. We acknowledge that terms that describe a person or group’s identity regarding race, ethnicity, religion, etc., can change over time or have different meaning to different people. "Eskimo" is a word that has different connotations depending on where you live in the Northern Hemisphere.

In Canada and Greenland, "Eskimo" has negative connotations and is no longer an accepted term. "Inuit" is preferred, but that term is not commonly used in the United States. In the U.S., "Eskimo" is not considered to be derogatory and is in common usage. "Eskimo" is used when speaking of two main indigenous cultural groups collectively: "Yupik" (a culture group from Western Alaska) and "Inupiat" (a culture group from Northern Alaska and St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea). When one of these groups is being referenced, "Yupik" or "Inupiat" is favored over "Eskimo" by Alaskan Natives.

The term "Alaskan Natives" includes all indigenous peoples of Alaska: Eskimo, Unangan (Aleut), and American Indian, and is also considered broadly acceptable.

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