Quinn’s presents curated Arts of the Americas Auction featuring Pre-Columbian gold, Nov. 4

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Also featured: Olmec-style jade masks, collection of Maximon/San Simon saint figures, pottery, sculptures, textiles, baskets, paintings and other Mesoamerican cultural treasures

FALLS CHURCH, Va. – On Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, Northern Virginia’s Quinn’s Auction Galleries will conduct a beautifully curated “Arts of the Americas” auction from its popular Collector Series. The 145-lot specialty event features a collection of Pre-Columbian, Native American and Central American objects that include pottery, sculpture, gold, textiles, baskets, paintings and Guatemalan folk santos. While there will be no in-person floor bidding, many other convenient options are available, including live online through a choice of three bidding platforms.

Among the auction’s highlights are a group of Diquis and Veraguas pendants, a 600-900CE Veracruz palma, a Doug Hyde sculpture titled Grandma’s Goat Thinks He’s a Dragon, and an assortment of 20th-century Maximon figures.

Diquis/Chiriqui pendant depicting two figures within a framework of linked gold rectangles, 22K gold, Costa Rica, weight 129.6g. Estimate $7,000-$8,000
Diquis/Chiriqui pendant depicting two figures within a framework of linked gold rectangles, 22K gold, Costa Rica, weight 129.6g. Estimate $7,000-$8,000

It’s impossible not to gaze admiringly at the beautiful 22K gold that composes a Diquis pendant from Costa Rica. The Diquis culture flourished from 700-1530 AD, and its people formed part of the Greater Chiriqui culture that inhabited a substantial region that spanned from southern Costa Rica to western Panama. The Diquis are known for their stone spheres and masterful gold designs. The pendant consigned to Quinn’s weighs 129.6 grams and depicts two figures standing within a framework of linked gold rectangles. Like many of the gold pieces in the auction, it comes with provenance from the Ehrich Locke family. It is estimated at $7,000-$8,000.

A number of other important pendants follow, including a 22K gold Diquis pendant of figure in “feathered” headdress, weighing 20.7 grams and estimated at $1,000-$1,500; and two designs from the Veraguas (Costa Rica) culture, whose goldsmiths were known for the high quality of their workmanship. A 14K gold example depicting a mythical two-headed creature weighs 72.9 grams and is estimated at $2,000-$4,000, while an 18K gold pendant in the form of an antlered animal, which weighs 38 grams, is expected to make $1,500-$2,000.

A fascinating back story explains the design and form of an 18½-inch-long Veracruz (Mexico) stone palma dating to 600-900 AD. So named because of their palm-frond shapes, palmas were worn by players as part of their elaborate regalia in a ritualistic Mesoamerican ballgame. The palma would attach to a stone yoke worn around the waist to protect the player’s chest and vital organs. Often, the motifs carved into palmas correlated with the game’s theme of sacrifice. The palma in the November 4 sale is carved in bas relief to resemble the profile of a bird. From a Texas private collection, it is estimated at $4,000-$8,000.

Thirty-one individual and group lots consist of Maximon/San Simon figures from Guatemala. Maximon – also called San Simon – is a deity and folk saint represented in various forms by the Maya people of certain towns in western Guatemala. The traditions behind the figures go back centuries within the culture. According to some legends, Maximon was never a man, but rather a wooden figure created by shamans to defend their villages. As the story goes, Maximon resorted to trickery to harm the people of the village, so the shamans twisted his head around and broke his legs to stop him. After learning his lesson, Maximon got back on the right track and started protecting the villagers from evil. Elements of this folk tale explain the unusual nature of some of the figures offered by Quinn’s.

One 19th-century example, which wears a Maximon mask, has a cigarette (offering) between its lips and, similarly, a liquor bottle tucked into its jacket pocket. It is 56 inches long and was constructed from wood and textile. The pre-sale estimate is $1,000-$1,500. Another Maximon/San Simon “smoker,” crafted in the 20th century of wood, pigment and textile, is seated in a wood chair. Estimate: $800-$1,200. A third figure also sits in a chair, holds a walking stick and has a cigar (offering) in its mouth. Made of wood, pigment, textile and glass, this 20th-century creation is estimated at $1,000-$1,500.

Artifacts from the earliest major Mesoamerican civilization – the Olmec people – are highly desirable and collected around the world. Unlike the Maya and Aztec cultures that came later, very little is known about the Olmecs’ origin. It is believed that they occupied Veracruz (Mexico) as early as 1500 BC and were extinct by 400 BC. The mesmerizing faces on Olmec stone heads and figures continue to intrigue historians and archaeologists, while antiquities collectors seem particularly interested in Olmec masks. There are four lots of Olmec-style jade masks and pendants in the auction, all sourced from a Texas private collection. An 8 by 7 1/8-inch carved green jade face is unusual in that it has incised drawings on its cheeks. This imposing artwork with its included mount (total size: 11 by 7 1/8 inches) is expected to attract a winning bid of $1,000-$1,500.

A contemporary stone artwork by Oregon artist Doug Hyde (b. 1946-), titled Grandma’s Goat Thinks He’s a Dragon, was created in 1983 and measures 14½ by 16¼ inches. It is artist-signed on the front and comes with prestigious provenance from a Washington, DC private collection and, before that, Louis Newman Galleries in Beverly Hills, California. Estimate: $1,000-$1,500

Quinn’s Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021 Arts of the Americas Auction will commence at 3 p.m. ET. No in-person bidding. All bidding will be remote, either by phone, absentee live via the Internet through Quinn’s website, LiveAuctioneers or Invaluable. An open preview will be held at the auction gallery (360 S. Washington St., Falls Church, VA 22046) from 11-5 on Oct. 28-29 and Nov. 1-3. Masks are required. For additional information about any item in the auction or to discuss a future consignment, call Corrie Brady at Quinn’s, 703-532-5632, ext. 572, or email [email protected]. Visit Quinn’s online at www.quinnsauction.com.

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