A 19th century Northwest Coast Tlingit copper and abalone bear mask, estimate $20,000-40,000 at Ararity Auctions.

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The Washington, DC, collectors were well-known buyers in the field and their estate includes ‘a collection loaded with rare objects dating from distant prehistory, up to the present’.

The Nooters first became interested in tribal art when working in Liberia in the 1960s. They continued collecting after their return to the US when Robert joined the board of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, a post he held for 23 years.

The Nooters authored books on the subject, loaned pieces from their collection to many exhibitions and donated others to a series of museums. Bonhams conducted a 59-lot sale from the collection in 2021.

The Ararity sale is led by this 19th century Northwest Coast Tlingit copper and abalone bear mask (estimate $20,000-40,000).

Tlingit metal objects were made from both trade goods and the more valuable native ore mined and smelted locally.

These masks, shaped with minimal forging around a wooden form, were worn by the medicine men as they reached a trance-like state at potlatches.