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Tribal artefacts trending

Ancient Africa spear sparks bidding war at auction house

| THE INDEPENDENT | Strong demand for vintage tribal artefacts helped an African spear sell for more than 50 times its estimate, an auction house has said.

The African tribal spear was expected to be sold in Harborough for about £200 – but instead it went for a lot more than that after a bidding war.

The spear was snapped up for a staggering £18,500 (Approx.Shs90 million) in Market Harborough in the UK.

The rare ceremonial ‘weapon’, believed to be at least 100 years old, was given an estimate price of just £200-£300.

But it was sold for £18,500 – £21,830 including charges – at Gildings auctioneers on Great Bowden Road, Harborough.

Amid a fierce bidding war the beautifully-ornate symbolic spear was bagged by a thrilled European tribal specialist via the internet.

Tribal artefacts experts across the world were alerted after it was taken into Gildings by its delighted owner, who lives in the Harborough area.

According to the BBC, a spokesman for Market Harborough-based Gildings said there was currently very strong interest in artefacts from that region among the academic world and the price it fetched reflected its quality, intricate design and the fact it would have been owned by a very powerful member of the tribe.

The spokesman said: “The tribal art market has had the potential to throw up this kind of result.

“The significance of the item and its status, having come from a prominent figure, it all adds to its cache, with the academic world prepared to pay a sizeable amount.”

And the spear whipped up a storm of global interest on one of the auction house’s regular General Valuation Days.

Mark Gilding, Gildings director and militaria specialist, said: “The tribal art market has had the potential to generate this kind of result.

“This 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.”

He added: “Six bidders from around the world participated in the bidding for the spear via telephone, online bidding, and even via a WhatsApp call, proving that a provincial auction house can attract international bidding and interest in rare items and artefacts.”

The spear measures about 5ft 6ins (167cm) long and features a carved tribal head and steel tip. It features two carved heads representing spirits and is thought to likely have originated from the Luba state of Central Africa, now part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It was designed as a status symbol rather than a weapon to be used in warfare.

It’s thought to have been carved by expert tribal craftsmen in the late 19th or early 20th century.

Such spears were important symbols of power and leadership and are now highly coveted by collectors of magnificent tribal and ethnographical art.

Anyone interested in selling an item at auction with Gildings can attend the weekly General Valuation Days between 10am and 4pm on Fridays.

You don’t have to make an appointment.

Specialists are available to value jewelry, watches, silver, toys and memorabilia, pictures, 20th century design and antiques and collectables.

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