African tribal spear was expected to be sold in Harborough for about £200 - but instead it went for a lot more than that after a bidding war

An African tribal spear thought to be worth £200 has been snapped up for a staggering £18,500 in Market Harborough.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 10:55 am
Updated Thursday, 16th January 2020, 10:56 am
Part of the African spear.

The rare ceremonial ‘weapon’, believed to be at least 100 years old, was given an estimate price of just £200-£300.

But it was sold for £18,500 – £21,830 including charges – at Gildings auctioneers on Great Bowden Road, Harborough.

Amid a fierce bidding war the beautifully-ornate symbolic spear was bagged by a thrilled European tribal specialist via the internet.

Part of the African spear.

Tribal artefacts experts across the world were alerted after it was taken into Gildings by its delighted owner, who lives in the Harborough area.

And the spear whipped up a storm of global interest on one of the auction house’s regular General Valuation Days.

Mark Gilding, Gildings director and militaria specialist, said: “The tribal art market has had the potential to generate this kind of result.

“This is not the first time such an item has emerged from a local home in the recent past.

“Only last year we introduced an U’u paddle from the Marquesas Islands to a Parisian auction house that went on to make in excess of £30,000.”

He added: “Six bidders from around the world participated in the bidding for the spear via telephone, online bidding, and even via a WhatsApp call, proving that a provincial auction house can attract international bidding and interest in rare items and artefacts.”

The spear measures about 5ft 6ins (167cm) long and features a carved tribal head and steel tip.

It was designed as a status symbol rather than a weapon to be used in warfare.

It’s thought to have been carved by expert tribal craftsmen in the late 19th or early 20th century.

And it’s likely to have originated from the Luba peoples of Central Africa, now part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Such spears were important symbols of power and leadership and are now highly coveted by collectors of magnificent tribal and ethnographical art.

Anyone interested in selling an item at auction with Gildings can attend the weekly General Valuation Days between 10am and 4pm on Fridays.

You don’t have to make an appointment.

Specialists are available to value jewellery, watches, silver, toys and memorabilia, pictures, 20th century design and antiques and collectables.