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Rare Tongan War Club Sells For £9,500

4th September 2020.

An unusually long late 18th century ironwood ‘Aku-Tau’ or war club, hailing from Tonga, sold for £9,500 (plus buyer’s premium) in Tennants Auctioneers’ Militaria and Ethnographica Sale on 4th September. Measuring 122cm long, the club was finely carved with geometric shapes and stylised human figures, known as glyphs. A rich, dark, shiny patina attracted the attention of collectors, helping the lot soar above the £2,000-3,000 estimate. From the same private collection as the club was a rare Korean ‘War’ Helmet that sold well too, despite being slightly misshapen. Possibly made in the 17th Century, the lacquered leather and steel helmet sold to a South Korean buyer for £4,800.

Elsewhere in the sale an Indian Steel Bow comprising two sections screwed together sold for £1,700, and a group of five African tribal weapons including a Masai Lion Spear and a Polearm with a bill hook type blade sold for £1,600. A London Pistol Company Six Shot Single Action Percussion Revolver, which was patented in 1859, sold for £700, and a Late 18th Century Irish Brass Crossbelt Plate sold for £1,500. The plate was engraved with a Maid of Erin harp and ‘BALLINTEMPLE INFANTRY 1796’, one of the numerous militia or Volunteer groups that sprung up in Ireland in the late 18th century to guard against invasion and preserve law when British forces were withdrawn to fight in the American Colonies.

A collection of Celluloid and Photo Button Badges and Compact Mirrors sold very well, too. Manufactured by White & Lambert Ltd of Birmingham, they were retained after the business was sold. The badges proved popular in the saleroom, and a collection of 96 late Victorian and Edwardian celluloid button badges depicting patriotic flags, politicians and military leaders such as Winston Churchill and Lord Kitchener, sold for £900. Two early 20th century ‘Votes for Women’ badges sold for £380, and a group of 10 late 19th and early 20th century football and cricket badges sold for £600.

The sale resulted in a total hammer price of £66,960 for 242 lots, with a sold rate of 91%.

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