The items, setting a new house record for the firm, were part of a 600-lot sale comprising the contents of a farmhouse in Aberdeenshire. Family history suggests a descendant was well-travelled in the late Victorian era.
A lot catalogued simply as “two wooden clubs” comprised two classic Fijian hardwood war clubs, an ula with carved decoration and a waka inlaid with both geometric carving and marine ivory inlay. The teeth of sperm whales that occasionally washed up on the beaches of the South Pacific were highly prized by Fijian warriors. Together the clubs sold via the saleroom.com to a buyer in Switzerland for £19,000.
A lot comprising six “African spears and clubs” was identified by the dealing and collecting community as including chip-carved examples from Tonga and others from the Austral Islands - among the most common survivors of Polynesian art. Most Austral paddles (their exact function is unknown) are dated to the period c.1820-40 and were made in workshops on the Island of Raivavae as trade items. By 1842 the trade had ceased: the French had taken over Tahiti to the north and disease had decimated the local population.
The group sold as a single lot at £27,500 to an online buyer from France. The disappointed underbidder on both lots, a dealer from Pembrokeshire, was in the room.
Elgin's saleroom manager Gordon Pirie said: “We don’t put estimates as they either make you look wonderful or make you look stupid.”