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‘Tribal material is seen as modern art’

Why, aided by the search engine, ethnographica is assuming greater importance for regional rooms

Overshadowed by the Chinese boom, another market which has emerged over the past few years from the world of scholars and museum curators into the high-priced field of collectors is tribal art.

Turbo-charged by the worldwide reach of the internet, the market is today of considerable importance to UK auctioneers with scarcely a week passing without ethnographica shining somewhere in the UK.

A marine ivory necklace from Mangaia, the southernmost of the Cook Islands (£99,000 at Ewbanks in Surrey, in December), a Maori putorino or bugle flute (£140,000 at John Nicholson’s in February) and an Easter Islands figure (£95,000 at Dreweatts in March) are three recent spectacular cases.

Two specialist sales underlined the point: that at Woolley & Wallis (22% buyer’s premium) in Salisbury on March 1 and, at the other end of England, the March 8 sale held at Tennants (18.5% buyer’s premium) in Leyburn.

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About Antiques Trade Gazette

Antiques Trade Gazette is the essential publication for everyone with a serious interest in art, antiques and collectables. Every week it is packed with up-to-the-minute news on the market, with individual items beautifully illustrated throughout. Since 1971 it has been the most reliable source of information on what is really happening at auctions in the UK and around the world. Each issue is filled with auction advertisements and detailed auction reports written by expert journalists. The Dealer’s Diary section keeps readers constantly updated on what is happening at the fairs and markets and in the galleries and shops. Market professionals and serious collectors throughout the world rely on ATG to keep them informed on developments and issues which shape the art market. It is here that they learn about the prices achieved at auction in every area - from antiquities to pop memorabilia, from impressionist paintings to Chinese art. With 500 or more art objects pictured, every issue is a treat to the eye and a visual education. Whatever the topic Antiques Trade Gazette is well-informed, up-to-date and entertaining.

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