Navajo Ute First Phase Blanket, ca. 1850

Value (2016) | $750,000 Retail$1,000,000 Retail
Watch  

GUEST:
Well, I don't know an awful lot about it, except that, uh, it was given by Kit Carson--who I'm sure everybody knows, and his history-- given to the foster father of my grandmother.

APPRAISER:
And do you know who made this weaving? Do you know what kind of blanket it is?

GUEST:
It's probably a Navajo, but that's about all I know.

APPRAISER:
So you haven't had anybody look at it, or...

GUEST:
Nobody's ever looked at it that I'm aware of.

APPRAISER:
Well, Ted, did you notice when you showed this to me that I kind of stopped breathing a little bit?

GUEST:
Yeah, you did! (laughs)

APPRAISER:
I'm still having a little bit of trouble breathing here, Ted.

GUEST:
It took me by surprise, because I, you know, didn't think much about it. It's probably a chief's blanket, but...

APPRAISER:
That's exactly what it is, and it's not just a chief's blanket. It's the first type of chief's blanket made. These were made in about 1840 to

1860, and it's called a Ute, first phase.

GUEST:
A Ute?

APPRAISER:
A Ute first-phase wearing blanket.

GUEST:
A Ute first-phase…

APPRAISER:
Chief's wearing blanket.

GUEST:
…wearing blanket.

APPRAISER:
But it's Navajo-made. They were made for Ute chiefs, and they were very, very valuable at the time. This is, sort of… this is Navajo weaving in its purest form. All of these things that we see later with diamonds and all kinds of different patterns comes much later than this. This is just pure linear design. This is the – the beginning of Navajo weaving.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
And not only that, the condition of this… is unbelievable, unbelievable. We see these... We've got a little bit of damage over there.

GUEST:
In spite of the damage, it's unbelievable.

APPRAISER:
Very interesting thing here: this is almost like silk. It's made from hand-woven wool…

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
…but it's so finely done, it's like silk.

GUEST:
Wow.

APPRAISER:
It would repel water. And this, here, is dyed with indigo dyes. It was a very valuable dye at the time. And what's really interesting is right here we have an old repair that was probably done in the 1860s, and it's done with raveled bayeta, which is, in itself, a very important thing in Navajo… Navajo weaving. So… all involved, it's an extraordinary piece of art. It's extremely rare. It is the most important thing that's come into the Roadshow that I've seen. Do you have a sense at all of what you're looking at here in terms of value?

GUEST:
I haven't a clue.

APPRAISER:
Are you a wealthy man, Ted?

GUEST:
No!

APPRAISER:
Well, sir, um… I'm still a little nervous, here, I have to tell you. On a really bad day, this textile would be worth $350,000. On a good day it's about a half a million dollars.

GUEST:
Oh, my God!

APPRAISER:
And you had no idea?

GUEST:
I had no idea. (voice breaking) It was laying on the back of a chair.

APPRAISER:
Well, sir, you have a national treasure.

GUEST:
Wow!

APPRAISER:
A national treasure.

GUEST:
Gee!

APPRAISER:
When you walked in with this, I just about died. Congratulations.

GUEST:
Gee!

APPRAISER:
Congratulations.

GUEST:
I can't believe this.

APPRAISER:
Now, the value of this… that I'm giving is not using the Kit Carson provenance. Provenance is sometimes very difficult to ascertain. If we could do research on this and we could prove without a reasonable doubt that Kit Carson did actually own this… ah, the value would increase again, maybe 20%.

GUEST:
Wow. Can't believe it. My grandmother, you know, were poor farmers. They didn't, uh... she had... her foster father had started some gold mills and, and you know, discovered gold and everything, but there was no wealth, no wealth in the family at all. Boy! (voice breaking) I can't believe it!

APPRAISER:
Congratulations.

GUEST:
Thank you. Gee... boy... I'm amazed. I'm flabbergasted.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Donald Ellis Gallery
Dundas, ON, Canada
Update (2016)
$750,000 Retail$1,000,000 Retail
Appraised value (2001)
$350,000 Retail$500,000 Retail
Event
Tucson, AZ (June 09, 2001)
Period
19th Century
Form
Blanket
Material
Wool

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