Turner Auctions + Appraisals is pleased to present basketry and other items from Native American and other indigenous cultures from the private collection and estate of Peter L. Corey, who served as curator and director of the Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka, Alaska, for nearly 25 years. Accumulated over four decades and painstakingly organized, the one-owner collection of about 1000 items in 165 lots includes both contemporary and antique items, primarily baskets, dolls and whimsical goods. Most are from Alaska and other Native American cultures, including Aleut, Eskimo, Seminole, Iroquois, Hopi, Cherokee and Choctaw; some are from Mexico. Highlights in the upcoming sale include Alaskan Eskimo baleen baskets, and Seminole and Eskimo dolls.
Peter L. Corey passed away in September 2015. His interest in Native American cultures began with a gift, a book from his grandfather at age 12, which evolved into an enthusiasm for collecting that continued his entire life. Asked about Mr. Corey’s lifelong passion, Irene Shuler, a close friend in Sitka who was asked by Mr. Corey to help manage his collection going forward, said “I think collectors are born; that was the way with Peter. For him, it wasn’t just about the objects, but the culture.” She noted that his interest went deeper: he liked to study the items, then do them himself, such as beading and weaving arts, which he later taught.
Mr. Corey was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1939. He graduated with a degree in anthropology from Colorado State University, worked in the Dominican Republic with the Peace Corps, then pursued a master’s degree in historical museum procedures from Cooperstown Graduate Program. Moving to Alaska in 1969, he served in various curator positions, working first for the Alaska State Museum, then the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan, and finally the Sheldon Jackson Museum, from which he retired in 2002.
Mr. Corey’s original collection also included Navajo silver, Alaska Native art, and masks from around the world; many of these items have been given to family members, sold privately or gone to auction. Other parts of the extensive collection have been donated to Alaska museums: 105 items were bequeathed to the Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka, and six items went to the Ketchikan Museums. In this way, Peter L. Corey’s collection, lovingly accumulated over a lifetime, will continue to be valued by others who share his passion.