Museum acquires significant basket
November 14, 2005
With a recent purchase, the Nevada State Museum has finally filled a glaring void in its collection.
In August, the museum acquired from a private art gallery in Santa Fe, N.M., a hand-woven basket by Tootsie Dick, who is considered one of the three finest Washoe basket weavers.
“This is unique for our collection because we only have one or two of the prominent basket weavers and not having a Tootsie Dick was a gap,” said Eugene Hattori, the museum’s anthropology curator.
Tootsie Dick was a Washoe weaver from Coleville, Calif., who was a contemporary of Dat-So-La-Lee, who some consider the pre-eminent basket weaver and whose baskets sell for upward of $600,000.
Dick’s baskets were also featured in the photographs of Edward S. Curtis, who visited the area in 1925.
The basket acquired by the museum has been dated between 1910-1920 and is a Degikup, a globular-shaped willow basket decorated with bracken fern root and redbud fibers in two geometric designs. It measures 7 inches high and 14 inches in diameter and was purchased for $24,000.
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“This was a pastime for them. They had other aspects of their lives to lead. They didn’t do this full-time,” Hattori said.
The museum has been seeking to add a basket by Dick for some time, but it was through the Internet they were able to achieve it.
“We called dealers who we knew but were unsuccessful, so I went on the Internet and found one for sale at the gallery in Santa Fe,” Hattori said.
Currently the museum’s collection of more than 875 baskets, dating from 1776 to 2004, is not on display due to extensive remodeling at the museum.
“We really, really want to get them on display, but there is a danger with the extensive remodeling that the environmental conditions could effect them and we don’t want these baskets to have to go through those changes,” Hattori said.
While the baskets will not be on permanent display in the immediate future, visitors can still see the collection by taking one of the museum’s monthly behind-the-scenes tours.
“This basket is an important part of the local history, as well as being some of the best basket weaving in the country,” said Hattori.