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Frankoma Negro Masks No. 124 And No. 125

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I was just wondering if anyone has ever seen an example of either of these pieces. I found a pair at an estate auction this past week. I did not know that Frankoma made pieces like these. Does anyone know how old they are? Any help would be appreciated.

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You're correct in thinking that these pieces are rare, and the book values bear that out. The male and female African masks were designed by Joseph Taylor, a close associate of John Frank, who founded Frankoma. The masks were first produced from 1934 to 1942 and again from 1973 to 1976.

The masks produced in the seventies are book-valued at $100-125. Those made between 1938 and 1942 have a value of $150-175, and those made prior to 1938 are valued at $275-300.

The original Frankoma pottery was located in Norman, Oklahoma. However, in 1938 Frankoma moved its operations to a new plant in Sapulpa which began production in June of that year. In November, a devastating fire destroyed the new plant and most of the molds. Frankoma rebuilt and used many finished pieces of pottery to create new molds. The items that came from the new molds were, therefore, about 10 percent smaller than the original pieces.

The original African masks produced before the fire were 7-1/4" x 5" for the man, and 7-1/2" x 4-1/2" for the woman, and those produced subsequently were slightly smaller.

Of course, the early pieces made at the Norman facility would bear one of the ink-stamped Norman marks or the incised Frankoma mark with the perfectly round "O". Those made later in Sapulpa would bear the incised Frankoma mark with the oblong "O". These pieces were made with the light Ada clay. The masks produced in the seventies were made with the darker Sapulpa clay.

Congratulations! You made quite a find at the estate sale. I hope you'll let us know which period your pieces are from.

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