Two Miwok Baskets, ca. 1905

Value (2003) | $16,000 Auction$24,000 Auction

They're from the Miwok Reservation, which is near Tuolumne. My grandparents had the general store in a little town close to there. Lots of times, Indians brought baskets and gave them to my grandfather in return for groceries and goods. And my grandmother liked them so much and she became a collector, and the Indians in the area knew that she collected baskets, so they started giving them just to her.

About when?

I would guess they're about 1900, maybe a little later. They were married in 1900.

California baskets are a real specialized field of study because every little valley, there's a different tribal group that did something a little bit different and so it's hard to identify all of them. We know for sure these are Miwok because of your family and from the turn of the century, so around 1900. This is the ultimate Miwok basket; I've never seen any this big. They're storage baskets for nuts and different kinds of materials. These have obviously never been used. They were brought to her just like they came out when they were made. These are not ordinary and they're almost beyond extraordinary. The patterns are very traditional and pure on this one. On this one, all the shapes, plus the scale-- they're so huge. I mean, when we see these we expect to see something, you know, this scale. These things are tremendous. As appraisers, we'll go back and look for comparables and come up with a reasonable evaluation. The problem is there's nothing comparable. And all of us at the table have sat and gone through all our records... We've made phone calls, people just go, "I don't know." You know, you can tell their jaws are dropping on the phone. You want to know what they're worth, don't you?

I do.

With the documentation you have, the history, $8,000 to $12,000 each. And that's a very conservative estimate. It's a collector's dream. It's the best I've ever seen ever at any time.

Well, they're important to me. I remember climbing in them as a little child.

(groans) Well, I'm glad they're still here.

Appraisal Details

San Antonio, TX
Appraised value (2003)
$16,000 Auction$24,000 Auction
San Francisco, CA (August 16, 2003)
Tribal Arts

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