Collectors’ Objects from around the World

A 6th century BC, Ancient Greek Siana black figure kylix (wine cup)
A 6th century BC, Ancient Greek Siana black figure kylix (wine cup)

Toovey’s new specialist sales of Tribal Art, Antiquities and Natural history cover a diversity of collecting interests ranging from sea shells, fossils and minerals to tribal art and antiquities.

They combine the delights of the Renaissance cabinet of curiosity with the enquiry of the 18th century Enlightenment. Between 1680 and 1820 the imaginations of some of Britain, Europe and America’s leading philosophers, scientists and writers were inspired by a new age of reason and learning which became known as the Enlightenment.

During the Renaissance rooms and cabinets of curiosities housed encyclopaedic collections of objects whose categorical boundaries were yet to be defined. They were often known as wonder cabinets and rooms. Similarly 18th century collectors, antiquaries and travellers brought together, but also sought to classify, objects from the world around them. Many of these objects were categorised according to the seven major new areas of enquiry during the Enlightenment. These included: natural history, art and civilisation, religion and ritual, the birth of archaeology, discovery and trade, the translation of ancient scripts and classification.

Toovey’s first specialist sales of Tribal Art, Antiquities and Natural history earlier this year highlighted the strength of demand for these pieces.

A Senufo carved and painted figure of a hornbill, Ivory Coast, used by the Poro society
A Senufo carved and painted figure of a hornbill, Ivory Coast, used by the Poro society

The large Senufo carved and painted ritual figure of a hornbill would have been used by the Poro hunters. The Senufo people come from the Ivory Coast in West Africa. Standing 142cm high this impressive example was modelled with large flat rectangular wings, the long beak centred to the swollen stomach and the surface painted with red and black pigments on a pale ground. It realised £1500.

The delicate 6th century BC Ancient Greek Siana black figure kylix (wine cup) was just 8cm high and came from the Edouard Will collection. The delicate painted depiction of swans and hens was attributed to the Griffin-Bird painter. It realised £1900.

A Palaeolithic flint stone hand axe found near West Dean in West Sussex
A Palaeolithic flint stone hand axe found near West Dean in West Sussex

Although the rarest pieces command high prices many of these collectors’ items are great value. Take for example the Palaeolithic flint stone hand axe, found at West Dean in West Sussex, near the Trundle which sold for £65. Holding this humbling object gave me a real sense of connection with stone-age man in Sussex and my place in the procession of human history.

These new specialist sales cover a diversity of collecting interests ranging from sea shells, fossils and minerals to tribal art and antiquities.

Toovey’s specialists, William Rowsell and Mark Stonard, are passionate about these collecting fields and are always pleased to offer advice and meet with collectors. They can be contacted by telephoning 01903 891955 or emailing auctions@tooveys.com.

Toovey’s next specialist sales of Tribal Art, Antiquities and Natural History will be held on Wednesday 13th June 2018 and entries are still being accepted.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

Pre-Columbian Pottery and Other Antiquities at Toovey’s

Group of Pre-Columbian Pottery to be offered in Toovey's March Auction

Toovey’s March auction includes 45 Lots of Pre-Columbian Pottery and Other Antiquities, all consigned by local private collectors. Pre-Columbian is a term that refers to an era preceding Christopher Columbus’s Voyages of 1492, but is often used to denote a period prior to European influence.

Among the group is a Pre-Columbian carved stone head that is probably from the Olmec civilisation, the first major civilisation in Mexico that possibly dates back three millenia.  Perhaps more surprising than the age is the pre-sale estimate of £80-120. Unfortunately, while early antiquities are collected, they often command lower prices than many modern collectables.

At £300-500 a Mexican Totonac light red pottery figure is among the more valuable items, although not one of the oldest, dating from 400-900AD. Modelled as a female head and torso wearing a feathered headdress, the figure has some repairs, but being over 1000 years old perhaps this can be forgiven! The figure stands 14cm high excluding the modern oak base.

The Antiquities will be offered in the afternoon of Thursday 21st March.  In addition to the collection of Pre-Columbian Pottery and Other Antiquities, the March four-day sale offers 1647 other Lots, including specialist sales of Toys, Paintings, Silver, Jewellery, Clocks and Furniture, to view the entire online catalogue please click here.