(Indianapolis, Indiana) Collectors of Native American artifacts from across the country gathered at Dan Ripley’s Antique Helper on Saturday, July 14th. The occasion was monumental: Antique Helper had been assigned the enviable task of auctioning the Walter Nelson Collection of Native American Artifacts. Knowledge of this important collection was wide-spread. Collectors and dealers alike grasped the opportunity to see the many wonderful pieces and witness the sale first-hand.

Nelson, who died in 1955, was a noted collector who contributed greatly to the world of Native American artifacts and relics, as acknowledged in Watchel’s Who’s Who in Indian Relics #1. The collection, which includes many rare relics, remained untouched, in the possession of Nelson’s family, since his death in 1955.

With the help of Native American artifact expert Larry Swann, Antique Helper staff created a comprehensive and informative online and printed catalog of the collection. Bidders were provided with accurate descriptions and detailed images that proved invaluable.

Bidding was strong throughout the sale, with floor bidders taking home the bulk of the top sellers. Many relics crossing the auction block garnered rounds of applause as the bidding ended, as totals often exceeded expectations. High flyers included a large, 10”, rose quartz spear found in Dardanelle, Arkansas, which brought five-times its estimate, selling to a floor bidder for $11,250.*

Another floor bidder prevailed with a turkey tail ceremonial spear. This rare find was discovered on the Boozman Farm in Le Flore County, Oklahoma by Z. J. Harrison, and realized $4,781.25*. An unexpected surprise came when a zoomorphic effigy pestle saw $3,262.50*from a floor bidder, exceeding high estimate of $500. Similarly, the price of a fine stirrup pestle, expected to bring between $250 and $350 soared to an impressive $4,700*, on the phone.

Among the top three pieces in the Nelson collection was a large, thin and extremely fine G10 Kinney, found in Bell County, Texas. This piece, which received plenty of pre-auction attention, managed to skyrocket beyond its high estimate of $3,500, bringing $20,762.50* from a happy telephone bidder.

The undisputed star of this phenomenal sale was Walter Nelson’s favorite piece, a G10 fluted hornstone cumberland. Measuring 4 7/8”, this fine flint easily surpassed its high estimate of $20,000, bringing a keen $37.212.50* from a delighted floor bidder.

While Nelson’s collection was primarily composed of arrowheads and relics, there were also a handful of baskets and one exceptional rug. One large Hopi coiled basket with geometric designs surpassed its high estimate of $800, bringing $2,475* from a floor bidder. The rug, an early 20th Century Navajo with key border, saw $1,997.50* from an Indiana telephone bidder.

Antique Helper is proud to have been given the opportunity to handle such a special collection. All AH staff agree that it was a pleasure to not only have had the opportunity to handle a collection of this importance, but also to work with the Nelson family, who so carefully looked after these artifacts for more than 50 years. Special thanks is due to the Nelson family’s attorney, Stephen McNutt, whose sincere concern and dedication to his clients’ best interest led him to seek Antique Helper’s services.

“It was truly a pleasure to work with the Nelson family, says consultant Larry Swann, adding, “The staff at Antique Helper is a young, bright and professional group. And let’s not forget about the fabulous artifacts: I’ve been doing this for over thirty years, and know that it’s not often that you come across a collection like this. Not only did it come from a famous collector like Walter Nelson, but nothing had been added to it since the early fifties. It was an experience I will treasure forever.”

Our Midsummer art and antiques auction will take place on July 29th. Following this event, we will get ready for our autumn art auction. It will feature African-American pieces and European and American advertising posters dating from the 1890s to the 1950s on Saturday, September 22. On Sunday, September 23, we will host Dan Ripley’s 15th Anniversary Premier Italian Glass Auction. For more information about Antique Helper auctions, past present and future, please visit our website, www.antiquehelper.com.
*All prices noted include the following buyer’s premiums: 12.5% for floor bidders, 17.5% for telephone and absentee and 22.5% for eBay. Discounts are given to floor, telephone and absentee bidders paying by cash or check.