Native American Antiques



2015-06-26 10:41:50

Native American Antiques are valuable cultural artifacts relating to the history of Native Americans.


Brief history

Native American antiques are considered to be extremely valuable among collectors, and can range from beads, clothing and art, to tools, weapons and baskets.

Various laws in America have been passed which make it illegal for anyone to take Native American artifacts from federal land (such as forests, parks, etc.) due to the fact that they are such a valuable commodity. Anyone who is found digging up Native American artifacts (a term is commonly known as "pot hunting") could be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars, or possibly even serve jail time. Furthermore, anyone who purchases objects that were taken illegally could be fined as well.

Types of Native American Antiques


High Noon Western Americana in Los Angeles, California sold a Shoshone Indian dress from the Idaho region (circa 1850 to 1860s, 56" x 42") with lane beading along the shoulders as well as a row of beadwork and fringe along the top and the bottom for $7,000 in January of 2012.


Christie's in New York sold a Native American scout helmet (circa 19th century) for $3,220 in November of 2009.


Louis J. Dianni, LLC Auctions in Sunrise, Florida sold a Native American bear dance mask which was constructed of cloth and painted to resemble a grizzly bear (12" x 13" x 11.5;" 5 lbs.) for $8,000 in October of 2011.


Christie's in New York sold a Native American ceremonial bear club from the late 19th or early 20th centuries which was carved from bone and ivory along with a teak stand display for $3,750 in January of 2008.


Bonhams in London sold a 1929 Paiute polychrome basket (20") from the Yosemite-Mono Lake region for $336,250 in 2004, which at the time was a world record price for the highest sale of a Native American basket at an auction.

Uniques & Antiques, Inc. in Aston, Pennsylvania sold:

  • A Yokuts Native American bottleneck black and brown basket (8" x 12") for $21,000 in May of 2008.
  • A Yokuts Kawaiisu Native American basket from California (6 1/2" x 15") for $3,000 in May of 2008.


Skinner, Inc. in Massachusetts sold a turned covered ash burlwood bowl (circa 1780; 5" x 7 1/2") from somewhere in the Northeastern region of the United States for $15,000 in June of 2008.

Christie's in New York sold a Native American two-handed burlwood bowl (circa 1780; 8 3/4" x 19" x 16 1/4") from the New England region for $6,875 in January of 2008.


Tom Harris Auctions in Marshalltown, Iowa sold a Native American ceramic olla (circa 1890 to 1920; 9 1/2" x 12") for $3,250 in January of 2005.


Keno Auctions in New York, New York sold:

  • A reductive elm effigy ladle (circa 1760 to 1780) from the Great Lakes (Potawotomi) region for $10,500 in January of 2012.
  • A burl ladle with scroll and shell carving (circa 1780 to 1820) from the New England/Hudson River Valley Woodslands region for $4,000 in January of 2012.

Guide for collectors

Native American tools which were used for ceremonial purposes are considered to be valuable, as well as Native American clothing and weapons. Native American beads, baskets, clovis points, arrowheads and pottery are considered to be rare and valuable as well.

The highest price for any Native American artefact ever realised at auction is held by a rare Tlingit helmet, sold for $2.2 million in 2008.

Following this, Navajo rugs and textiles are the most valuable Native American artefacts. The ‘Chantland Blanket’, a First Phase chief’s wearing textile, sold for $1.8 million at John Moran Auctioneers on June 19th, 2012.

Only ten Paiute polychrome baskets which are over 20 inches in diameter from the Yosemite-Mono Lake region are known to exist, thus are considered to be extremely rare.

Restoration of a Native American outfit, tool, basket, bowl, weapon, helmet, or mask is not recommended.

For more information regarding where to find Native American antiques, visit the Indian Arts Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian, or the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian.

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