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Antiques Considered - September 1, 2010

The parents of a writer purchased this Maria Martinez charger in 1958 at Santa Clara. It has no chips, cracks or scratches, and only one or two small imperfections prior to the glazing. It is signed on the bottom, and still bears the remnant of a round white paper tag between the names. It is 12 inches in diameter.
At present the pottery of Maria Martinez, who lived from 1881-1980, is very popular, and the auction demand is great. She was born Maria Montoya, and at a young age married Julian Martinez. Soon after their wedding they traveled to the Saint Louis World’s Fair in 1904, where they observed the work of other potters. Her family had disdained the marriage because he had no trade. The native New Mexico community considered pottery to be women’s work, and Julian did not sign the pieces until 1925. From that time until his death in 1943 they signed the works, “Maria and Julian.”

Their son, Popovi Da (1922-1971), followed his parents into the pottery field, but used a different name. Maria is in the first tier of 20th-century art potters, and has a truly international reputation. Her style of blackware was self-taught; her inspiration came from the art of the pueblos, and she experimented with various new techniques. In this piece she used a gunmetal technique to give the deer the appearance of being silver.
The signature indicates that indeed she and her son made this piece in the late 1950s. I am sure that the writer’s parents bought the piece because they liked it, rather than as an investment from which they could turn a profit. All such Native American utilitarian and art pottery is at the peak of its popularity, and only indicates that its ascent will continue. This piece is worth well over $1,000. At the right auction the value could rise far above that amount.
Happy Antiquing!
Lisa and Henry Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy. 22570. (P.O. 35). Wicomico Church, VA 22570. Write to them or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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