What's It Worth? The Functional, Beautiful Parfleche

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We enjoy fine and decorative arts of all types. While Asian art and antiques are taking center stage currently, we still have a soft spot in our hearts for Native American art.  

A parfleche is a Native American rawhide container usually made with buffalo hide (sometimes from elk or moose) with the hair removed that is festooned and emblazoned with decorations – beads, paint and light cutting. Parfleche is a French Canadian word. Its roots are from the French parer (to ward off) and fleche (arrow). Native Americans called them wizipans. Conventional wisdom holds that these lyesoaked skins were tough enough to ward off arrows!  

These large pouches were used to carry personal goods – supplies, items for hunting like arrows and knives, and also dried meat. They were typically made in sets of two and could be hung on a saddle.

We achieved a selling price of $3,000 for this single incredible pouch, below, for a consignor to our international online auction. Value is impacted by age, tribe and condition, as well as artisanship. (For instance, a tourist version made in the 1940s, in poor conditon, could be worth as little as $50.) The very early Crow painted cylindrical parfleche, left, sold for almost $10,000 two years ago.

Always buying Native American art and antiques. We make house calls.

Three former sothebys.com associates and two art historians on staff. Call or email us if you want to deal with Florida’s leading auctioneer. We have sold the contents of museums and collections for USF.

Buying and Selling since 1984. Art, Jewelry, Watches, and Antiques.

Hess Fine Art, 1131 4th St. N, St. Petersburg FL 33701.

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