Delve into Native American artifacts |

Delve into Native American artifacts

summit daily news

Jim Nicholls would much rather “bet” his money on a Navajo rug or pipe bag than the stock market. After all, he’s been doing it since 1987, and it’s paid off; he once spent $65,000 for a gun that’s worth almost $200,000 these days.

Nicholls, owner of Cowboy Stuff Gallery in Breckenridge, will give a free talk on Native American artifacts Sunday. He’ll educate to people who want to learn how to tell authentic pieces from knock offs, as well as provide history for people who have a general interest in Western Native American culture.

Out of 36 items currently on display at the County Commons, he’ll choose approximately 15 to showcase, including a pipe bag, clothing and beaded items.

“If they’re interested in trying to collect this stuff, I’ll tell them what to beware of … what to look for, books to buy and where to look,” Nicholls said.

He began collecting when he started working at Paint Horse Gallery in Breckenridge. It began with Navajo weavings, and the more he sold, the deeper he delved into Native American artifacts.

“I’ve sold over 700 Navajo blankets over the years, so I know … the history,” Nicholls said.

During the lecture, he’ll tell stories about how he got involved in collecting and the history surrounding Native American cultures during time periods the pieces he’ll showcase were made, and how pieces differ. One of his favorite, and perhaps most interesting pieces is a Navajo silver bridle, created in 1915, Forty-eight pieces of matching spider web turquoise complements the silver, which also includes four early U.S. coins.

“It’s the most beautiful piece of Indian jewelry I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot),” he said.

The aesthetics of the piece are one reason Nicholls loves to collect, but his passion also has paid off.

“It’s not liquid like the stock market, but it’s safer if you know what you’re doing (and you get to enjoy it),” he said. “It’s what I’ve invested in.”

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