Captain Cook’s spear and other Oceanian treasures go to auction in Paris

Notable artefacts include a 19th-century Hawaiian flag and Maori war canoe

19th-century Hawaiian silk flag, €12,000-€15,000
19th-century Hawaiian silk flag, €12,000-€15,000

Oceanian art and tribal artefacts from the South Sea Islands are cherished as much for their romantic narratives as the skills and craftsmanship behind them. A rare opportunity to buy such objects – including an 18th-century wooden spear belonging to Captain Cook – will arise on April 5-7, when French auction house Aguttes holds a three-day sale in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris, following an exhibition from March 29 to April 4.

A wooden spear found by Captain Cook, €68,000-€75,000
A wooden spear found by Captain Cook, €68,000-€75,000
Advertisement

On offer are more than 800 items collected by leading pre-Columbian art dealer Rainer Werner Bock, from 18th-century bowls, pestles and lances to fish hooks and model boats. Cook’s spear (estimate €68,000-€75,000) was found during the explorer’s third expedition in 1779-1780 and is likely to attract fierce bidding, as are a 19th-century silk flag of Hawaii (€12,000-€15,000) and an 18th-century fibre war helmet (€55,000-€65,000) discovered by one of the first French scientific expeditions to Hawaii.

Hawaiian feather ornament for flasks and bottles, €8,500-€9,500
Hawaiian feather ornament for flasks and bottles, €8,500-€9,500
Carving of a head from the Solomon Islands, €22,000-€28,000
Carving of a head from the Solomon Islands, €22,000-€28,000

Character and colour abound, especially in a carved head (€22,000-€28,000) from the Solomon Islands and a canary-yellow and red feather ornament for flasks and bottles (€8,500-€9,500) from Hawaii. Highlights from the 19th century include a club (€75,000-€85,000) carved out of casuarina wood from the Marquesas Islands; a delicate Tahi’i fan (€30,000-€35,000), also from the Marquesas; and a Hawaiian Pahu war drum (€12,000-€15,000).

Casuarina wood club from the Marquesas Islands, €75,000-€85,000
Casuarina wood club from the Marquesas Islands, €75,000-€85,000
Advertisement

Another focal point of the sale is boats, which were essential to the Polynesians. There are 54 beautifully crafted models, with one of the standout lots a large 19th-century Maori war canoe (€45,000-€55,000).

For more upcoming auctions, click here.

See also

Advertisement
Loading