Auction 108 Highlights

Antiquities across the Ages

The Australian Aborigines are considered the World’s longest continuous civilisation having peopled a vast island continent largely uninterrupted for over forty thousand years before the British arrived claimed it as a colony in the late 1700s. As split by dialects and distance as the early tribes of Europe and without the invention of paper to record their history they relied on rock art and storytelling to retain their customs and beliefs.

In Smalls Auction No.108 we are pleased to offer a good selection of ethnographic items related to this living ancient culture. The ‘churingas’ of the central and western deserts of Australia are considered the most sacred objects of the local native populations. Made of slate or wood they are patterned with either concentric or geometrical designs depending on the locality. There is also a fine selection of ‘bullroarers’ known colloquially as the ‘bush telegraph.’ These exist in many ancient cultures and when swung around the head on a tether they rotate and emit a low frequency hum which was used to communicate over long distances.

It is difficult to fathom that the Neolithic arrowheads from Europe in the sale are predated by over 25,000 years of civilisation by the Australian Aborigines.

To this day the history of Europe and the Mediterranean revolves around war and in our sale, we have a selection of arrowheads, lanceheads, axes, short swords and daggers that were used in close battle. Many of the items have impeccable pedigrees coming from the antiquity sales of Sothebys and Christies from the late 1970s. Of particular note is the Luristan Bronze Dagger or Short Sword with penannular decoration which dates to about 1,000 B.C. Items such as these are usually recovered from the battlefields and who knows how many souls perished from this blade before its wielder was also likely slayed. The iron weapons of war from medieval Europe are equally impressive with one maker leaving his distinctive mark on a Norman ‘Fighting’ Iron Axe Head of which he was especially proud.

For collectors of the odd and curious we have a mammoth bacula, a bone missing from homo sapiens except in name. There is also a lot of Sperm Whale teeth each of which records the length of the specimen from which it was taken. Who thought that Japanese Marine research was a ruse to put whale blubber on the menu of Japanese schoolchildren?

We hope you find something in our sale to interest you over the festive season and we wish good fortune to all in 2021 after the glimpse of Armageddon that was 2020.

Smalls Auctions