Seahawk Auctions held its 63rd auction last spring on March 19th, 2017 at the Engineers Auditorium in Burnaby, British Columbia. Although attendance at the auction was down slightly, their online presence was quite good with 125 bidding online. According to Seahawk’s CEO, Bill Neville, “the lower numbers at the actual auction may have been due to spring break and that other antique shows were also being held on the same day.”
There were about 375 items up for auction and those attending in person were privy to a few extra pieces that were not listed online. Although they are still finalizing all the sales from the day, Neville estimates that total sales so far at around $120,000.
Some of the auction highlights for Neville included at 19th Century Plains beaded pipe bag with different geometric designs on each side as well as a 19th Century Plains beaded belt and belt pouch with geometric designs and brass tacks. “Both had very nice bead work,” says Neville “and it is not often that we see the belt and pouch together, they tend to get separated over time.” Both did quite well at the auction, with the pipe bag going for $1,800 and the belt with the pouch being sold for $3,500.
In general Neville feels that the market for harder to find items, like the beaded belt with the pouch and totems by Ellen Neel, continue to do well and the more rare obscure items like the Dick Hawkins totem, are even doing better. However, according to Neville, “middle of the road items, such as baskets with some damage, are not doing as well. Collectors are just not as interested. In the past these utilitarian items did quite well, even with a bit of damage, but not so much these days.” As a result the market is more saturated and they don’t move as quickly.
And every once in a while, something totally unique crosses their path that doesn’t quite fit what they normally sell but is still considered quite special. For Jeff Harris, from Westwillow Antiques, this was a collection of RCMP memorabilia that included three 19th century items collected by Constable P.M. Rickard of the Royal North West Mounted Police (RNWMP). There was a buckle, a RNWMP vest pin, and a pair of spurs and a horse whip with the Canadian Crest. According to Harris these items came from Constable Rickard’s great granddaughter. But what truly impressed Harris was that these were all purchased by a local RCMP officer who actually collects RCMP items. “Not sure how he found out about them as this is certainly not what this auction is known for,” says Harris “we almost expected these items to disappear into obscurity but there is a real sense of gratification and feeling of success when these types of items find the proper home of a collector who will really enjoy them.” Together they sold for $425.
On a different and much sadder note, the West Coast is mourning the loss of a world renowned and gifted artist. Beau Dick, who was a master carver, Indigenous activist, and Kwakwaka’wakw hereditary chief from the ‘Namgis First Nation in Alert Bay, passed away on March 27th. Several pieces of his work have been featured in past Seahawk auctions, leaving quite an impression with Jeff Harris who knew him well. “His work was always well respected, especially by carvers. He not only had a hand for carving but his painting ability was perfect, he had a steady hand. He will be admired for many years to come. His greatness will be rediscovered over and over by the pieces that he has done.”
“He was a great carver who passed away way too young,” says Neville. “Of all the carvers we will remember him forever.” Harris agrees and goes on to say “He was quite the character and had mastered the shamanism of his culture. He was born with forms and shapes in his mind…he was a natural. I still felt that he had a lot in him to give. He had that magic to always be amazing. He knew a lot of the myths and stories and deeply understood them, and this informed his work.” Dick was only 61 when he passed away.