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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.

The next auction will be held on November 19, 2017 in Burnaby. Click here for more details and to preview items.

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Kwaguilth carved yellow cedar canoe

An unlikely room for an auction, the Engineer’s Auditorium in Burnaby was transformed into a vibrant showcase of Native history, tradition and art. With hundreds of items from across Canada and the U.S., many of the showstoppers at Seahawk Auction’s past Native Art & Artifacts Auction (#45, November 21, 2010) were from contemporary Native artists such as Ojibwa artist Norval Morrisseau and renowned local B.C. artists such as Bill Reid, Robert Davidson and Beau Dick.

Norval Morrisseau painting of a bird on paper

Considered by many to be the “grandfather” of Native art in Canada, Morrisseau is credited with bringing Native art into the mainstream art world and for inspiring three generations of Native artists. Interestingly, no other artist influenced his work and it is believed that he was the first to paint his people’s cultural heritage, “faithfully handed down by cultural tradition”. Through his art, he wanted to break down the barriers between the white world and his. Morrisseau’s greatest wish was to be recognized and respected as an artist and for his paintings to be seen by all people. In his words, “I want my work to be cornerstone for Indian art, to provide something that will last.”

And, indeed it has. With 409 Native art and artifacts on display, Seahawk’s auction has attracted buyers from across Canada, the U.S., and Europe. There was a full house in attendance with several buyers calling in by phone and bidding online. With Ted Deeken at the helm as the auctioneer, the auction brought in just over $380,000 (not including the buyer’s premium of 15%).

According to Bill Neville, one of Seahawk’s organizers, “this was a great auction all the way around.” Personally, he was quite surprised by how well some of the contemporary pieces did as they had a fairly large selection of older 19th and 20th century items that spoke more to Native history and cultural traditions. He also felt that this auction had one of the largest selections of ceremonial masks that he has seen in a very long time.

Of course two original items from Bill Reid were highlights for many auction goers (Silver Killer Whale Brooch and Original Charcoal Sketch), but this auction also showcased an impressive collection of work from Beau Dick.

Beau Dick articulated black raven mask

Born on Village Island, Kingcome Inlet in British Columbia, Dick is a respected Kwakwaka ‘wakw Chief and is considered to be one of the most accomplished and talented carvers on the West Coast and is widely acclaimed for the powerful quality of his masks. Although he has created his own distinctive style, he has studied under his father Francis and grandfather James Dick and has worked with Tony Hunt, Henry Hunt, Bill Reid, Doug Cranmer and Robert Davidson. Many of his important pieces can now also be found in the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Royal BC Museum and the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.

The work of Robert Davidson, a North West Coast Native of Haida descent, was also well represented at this auction. Having worked as an artist for over 30 years, and also coming from a long lineage of acclaimed carvers, he is considered the “consummate Haida artist”. Both his father and grandfather were respected carvers in Masset, B.C. and his great grandfather was famed carver, Charles Edenshaw. Davidson also completed an 18 month apprenticeship with Bill Reid that helped to launch his artistic career. His work can be found in several private and public collections such as the Vancouver Art Gallery, National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, and the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull. Although known as a master carver of totem poles and masks, he is also recognized for his work in other mediums such as printmaking, painting, and jewellery.

Columbia River Stone Bowl

Aside from the huge selection of contemporary Native art and ceremonial masks, there many ethnological items up for auction that provided a very visual and tactile peak into every day living for First Nation families in the 19th and 20th century. In particular there were hand woven baskets from various locations, bent wood boxes, basketry rattles, snowshoes, woven blankets, fire-making equipment, large stone bowls, everyday clothing such as moccasins and beaded gloves, and hunting gear that included spear heads, stone clubs, forged spike tomahawks, and an iron head pipe axe. All of these items also sold well at the auction.

Seahawk offers two to three auctions per year and their next one is scheduled for May 5-6, 2012 . More information, and a complete price list from this auction, can be found online at www.seahawkauctions.com

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