26. NATIVE AMERICAN WESTERN APACHE OLLA COILED BASKET, compressed ovoid form decorated with stepped lines and repeated triangles amid other geometric motifs. Condition Report: Excellent condition with some accumulated dirt. Provenance: Collection of the late John and Lil Palmer, Purcellville, VA. H. M. Kable Auctions, Charlestown, WV, May 25, 2002. The Eleanor C. Wilson estate, Jefferson Co., WV. Ex-collection of William L. Wilson, United States Postmaster under President Grover Cleveland. Probably acquired while in office.
Dimensions: 13" H, 16" DOA. Date: Circa 1890.
Historical notes found with this item follow: The Palmers purchased this item an auction on May 25, 2002 at a Fairgrounds just outside of Charlestown, WV. The sale was to liquidate the estate of Eleanor C. Wilson, who was a direct descendant of William L. Wilson, the United States Postmaster General under President Grover Cleveland. The basket belonged to William L. Wilson. The Palmers believe that this basket may have been a gift to Mr. Wilson while in office."
John Palmer relates the following the day of the auction. "The auctioneer had no idea what a good basket this was. He opened the bidding at $100.00. Unfortunately, there was one other person (Rick Willis from Winchester, VA ) who realized or recognized the value. When the bidding got to $2,500 the crowd fell silent. When the biding got to $5,000.00 the crowd was stunned. When the bidding ended at $10,000.00 they broke into loud applause. At least 20 different people came over to ask afterword "what on earth could make a basket worth that much money?". That is a difficult question to explain to someone without any knowledge of Native American baskets."
The basket was appraised by Ramona Morris, of Delaplane VA on May 29, 2002. Here comments follow: Geometric designs in myrtinia (devil's claw) on willow, coiled jar shape. Stepped lines and repeat triangles from possible butterfly designs. Fine weave and elegant shape with a wide hipped design than often found in baskets of this type. Excellent condition. 13"h .x 14w."
Additional comments by John Palmer of interest on the item follow: "This basket is in mint condition. We find absolutely no breaks or damage whatsoever. It has a build up of dust and dirt that has accumulated over the past 100 plus years. We have elected to leave it in this untouched condition rather than have it cleaned. The unusual design, which we do not fully understand, repeats itself three times. Ramona speculates that it might be a butterfly design but even she admits that she had never seen it before. What makes this basket truly exceptional (other than the decoration) is the exaggerated olla form with the wide shoulders. This is our favorite basket in the collection of Native American baskets."