The first auction of the decade produced a thrilling bidding war in Market Harborough on 7th January. Specialists of tribal artefacts had been alerted to lot 132 - “An African ceremonial tribal spear”. Estimated at £200 - £300, after a 6-minute bidding battle the final hammer price was knocked down at a staggering £18,500 (£21,830 inclusive of charges)!
Measuring 167cm in length, the spear had some interesting features which certainly set it apart from most other spears you might expect to see. The ‘top’ of the spear had a flared terminal carved with chevron design and below it on each side was a carved tribal head in relief. The shaft was unusual in that it was twisted in design and clad in copper. This extended down to the lower end which was of paddle form with each aspect carved with coiled motifs. The spear then terminated in a steel tip.
But rather than an item of warfare this spear would always have borne more importance and status for the bearer. Believed carved in the late 19th or early 20th century, it likely originated from the Luba peoples of Central Africa, now part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Such spears were important symbols of power and leadership within the Luba culture, which is well known for its broader artistic craftsmanship within the specialist Tribal and Ethnographical art market.
“The Tribal Art market has for some time now held the capacity to generate such results,” comments Mark Gilding, “and it is not the first time such an item has emerged from a local home in the recent past. Only last year we introduced an U’u paddle from the Marquesas Islands to a Parisian auction house that went on to make in excess of £30,000. But this recent result shows a classic example of where a provincial auction house can attract international bidding and interest in rare items and artefacts. Six bidders from around the world participated in the bidding for this lot – via telephone, online bidding, and even via a WhatsApp call! This spear may have come from a time and culture with limited technologies, but it became the focus of a 21st century technology-led auction yesterday. Needless-to-say, our vendor was over the moon with the end result, making 2020 a very happy New Year for them”.
This spear was consigned during one of our Friday General Valuation days, held most Fridays between 10am and 4pm. For further details see our Valuation Events diary or contact us for a free auction valuation via our Valuations pages.