Skulls achieve high prices at First Tribal Auction

Fantastic Tribal Art

This June saw Summers Place Auctions' first auction with a focus on Tribal Art & Travel take place on the 13th & 14th June 2017. The Billingshurst-based auctioneers have been including the occasional lots of tribal art in the past, but this was the first time the auction house included various collections in the auction and made it its focus.

Rupert van der Werff says: “We are happy with our first tribal art auction – we achieved some good prices and the fact that we could offer many lots at very affordable prices with estimates under £500 meant that it was particularly popular online. Given that tribal art had such a big influence on Modern Art, it is no surprise that art collectors have shown an interest in this sale.”

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The top lots in the tribal art section proved to be skulls. A Dayak tribe carved skull sold for £6,200 (£7,750 incl premium) against an estimate of £2,000 – 3,000 after fierce internet bidding and a fabulous Dayak Ancestor skull decorated with feathers, seeds and nose piece mounted on wooden stand sold at top estimate for £3,000 (£3,750) to a telephone bidder. Twofetish chimpanzee skulls sold for £2,000 (est. £900 – 1,200/£2,500) and £850 (est. £300 – 500/£1,062.50) respectively.

Papua New Guinea

The collection of 56 lots from the Sepik river area of Papua New Guinea, collected during the middle of the 20th Century by repute by a missionary who was stationed there both before and after the Second World War, did well throughout. The two lots of seven Aibom village painted terracotta Sago pots (the largest 30cm) certainly could have been the inspiration for Picasso's famous ceramics and they were certainly popular. The lots had been estimated to sell for £200-300 each and they fetched £520 (£650) each.

Two painted wooden carved masks, the biggest one 65cm high, carried an estimate of £200 – 300 and sold for £620 (£775). A pair of beaded and buckskin moccasins from the Sioux Tribe, South Dakota, from circa 1870 is the highlight of tribal art from the Americas. They had been estimated to fetch £1,000-1,500 and sold for £1,400 (£1,750).

Rare Hardstone Carved Shrubs

A pair of rare and impressive life size carved hardstone flowering shrubs sold for £12,000 (£15,000) to a bidder in the room. They were early 20th century Chinese and the flowers and buds were made of rose quartz with jadeite leaves with simulated bark and in lacquered wood hexagonal tubs painted with oriental scenes. The majority of hardstone trees are miniature in scale and these life size examples are both a tour de force in terms of carving in a wide variety of hardstones and in their monumental scale which marks them as very rare examples indeed and had carried an estimate of £10,000-15,000.

Victorian Pavilion

Top lot of the sealed bid sale was an impressive Victorian cast iron Pavilion from the late 19th century, which sold for £28,000 (£35,000). A set of modern carved limestone Seasons figures sold for £8,050 (£10,062.50) and an Italian 19th century carved white marble bust of a Bacchante sold to a telephone bidder for £5,000 (£6,250). An extremely rare terracotta figure of Pan by the Compton Pottery was also included in the auction with an estimate of £4,000-6,000. The Compton Potters Art Guild was started by Mary Watts, the wife of G.F. Watts the Victorian allegorical painter near Godalming, Surrey in the late 19th century and this is an early 20th century example. It sold for £4,000 (£5,000).

A pair of Coalbrookdale cast iron occasional tables from circa 1860 sold for £5,200 (£6,500) and a 21.8 kg Lapis Lazuli freeform sold for £5,000 (£6,250) against an estimate of £2,200 – 3,800.

Other interesting lots and very much following our motto 'from Rome to Chrome' were a marble sarcophagus, which was made in Italy in the 18th century to support an ancient lid which was in the possession of the Earls of Bessborough. It sold for £500 above its top estimate of £8,000 (£10,625). While a rare Lavochkin V-760 rocket from 1960, 10.9 metres long and a variation of the S-75 rocket series sold for low estimate at £8,000 (£10,000). While an equally rare, small ISAYEV liquid fuel engine on stand from 1957 sold for £6,500 (£8,125), more than twice its top estimate of £2,000 – 3,000, to a telephone bidder after a long battle online and on the phones.

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