Ben Eustace was born into the Zuni Pueblo sometime in the 1920’s. He became a well known silversmith who was essentially self taught. He did something unusual in the 1970’s when he registered a leaf design with the copyright office. His family still uses that style today.
Ben married Felica, a Cochiti Pueblo woman. I haven’t been able to find out how they met and in the 1940’s Cochiti was a long way from Zuni, but they did. They lived in Zuni.
Ben taught his wife to silversmith (although some say she learned first) and in the 1940’s they worked for the legendary trader CG Wallace in Gallup. Then, in 1959, they moved to Albuquerque where they worked at the Covered Wagon in Old Town. This store was one of the best in the Southwest. It was owned by Mannie Goodman, who didn’t retire until he was 91, and his wife Anne.
I used to sell rugs to the Covered Wagon in the 1970’s and they always had a silversmith working in the window. In the early 60’s, the Eustaces were the people who did that. Famous entertainers, like Elvis, bought jewelry from the store and commissioned special pieces from the Eustaces.
In the 1980’s, they moved to Cochiti to the family home on the main plaza. Ben continued to make and sell jewelry while Felica switched to making story teller dolls, which had been made famous by another Cochiti woman, Helen Cordero.
Ben was intrigued by the work his wife did with the clay and began to experiment and make story teller dolls too. His story tellers are really rare, mostly because he split time between making his very popular jewelry and working with the clay, and because he didn’t start making the dolls until he was in his 60’s. Ben passed away in 2007.
We have two of his story tellers, one male and one female, to offer you today. These pieces are owned by a family, who for medical reasons, is selling a large collection. These are really storyteller sets, the man with two children listening intently and the woman speaking to a child and holding a pot in her hand.
Both pieces are signed, “Ben Eustace, 1982”.
The Male figure is 5 1/2” tall and the female is slightly smaller. Originally priced at $1500 and $1200, to facilitate a sale, these pieces are offered at $1200.00 and $900.00.
For the collector, or for someone just wanting a great piece of Pueblo Pottery by an incredible artist, these 34 year old pieces are great values. They are in perfect condition.
These would also make a perfect gift! Believe it or not, Christmas is coming! It’s right after the election!
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