Prove­nance

Native American Art - - NEWS -

A well-doc­u­mented his­tory re­gard­ing the doll can add a huge premium in terms of value. Al­ways get the prove­nance in writ­ing as part of the his­tory of the doll.

Col­lect­ing vin­tage katsina dolls can be­come a life­long ob­ses­sion. I have been col­lect­ing and sell­ing early Hopi dolls for over 25 years, and I have seen and learned much dur­ing that time span. Here are two pearls of wis­dom:

If you are be­ing of­fered mul­ti­ple old dolls from a sin­gle collection, look to see if any of the dolls have iden­ti­cal color us­age and carv­ing style that would in­di­cate the same carver’s hand. I have only seen dolls by the same carver in a sup­posed early orig­i­nal collection if they were done as a pair, such as rep­re­sent­ing snake dancers. Those try­ing to fake old dolls fig­ure if one doll is valu­able, then two or even three is even bet­ter; the greed fac­tor re­veals it­self and helps un­der­mine the forger.

Al­ways make sure wear is con­sis­tent with hu­man us­age and not from me­chan­i­cal ag­ing, which is a com­mon prac­tice in mak­ing Old Style fakes, sand­pa­per be­ing the most com­mon tool.

Mu­se­ums and doc­u­mented early ex­am­ples in books are great ref­er­ences for learn­ing. When you’re ready to start col­lect­ing, buy from an ATADA (An­tique Tribal Arts Dealer As­so­ci­a­tion) dealer. The ATADA web­site is a great re­source to find deal­ers who are very knowl­edge­able, love what they do and will guar­an­tee what you buy. Wood and stone ob­jects are the eas­i­est types of ma­te­ri­als for forg­ers to work with, so katsi­nam are a good tar­get; though most forg­ers are rarely his­tor­i­cally cor­rect with ma­te­ri­als and sim­ply look for an easy mark.

"BUY WITH YOUR HEART, BUT DO SO ONLY AF­TER YOU HAVE TAKEN THE TIME TO ED­U­CATE YOUR­SELF. NA­TIVE AMERICAN ART MAG­A­ZINE IS A GOOD PLACE TO START.”

Zuni Many-col­ored War­rior of Zenith katsina, ca. 1930.

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