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Re: [African_Arts] Re: original boni headrest

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  • Deborah Ferrara
    Thank you. I just wanted to say that the detail pictures make the wood look lighter than it is. I had to take them in bright sunlight to get the detail that
    Message 1 of 10 , Jul 7, 2006
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      Thank you. I just wanted to say that the detail
      pictures make the wood look lighter than it is. I had
      to take them in bright sunlight to get the detail that
      day. If you click on the photos it will blow the
      picture up and you can see the details better.

      --- Rand African Art <rand@...> wrote:

      > The owner of the headrest has sent me an email
      > saying that they wish to offer it for sale. We will
      > allow individual members who do not have established
      > galleries (brick and mortar or online) the
      > opportunity to offer something for sale in the group
      > if they wish.
      > They have posted additional photos in the folder
      > called "Wayne's collection" in the photos section of
      > the group. The new photos show a little more detail
      > on the headrest than the original ones posted, the
      > color of the heardrest is much different in the new
      > photos because of the light I'm sure. The headrest
      > is nice, but it doens't have the intricate level of
      > detail I thought it might have from the original
      > photos.
      > If anyone is interested, please contact the person
      > directly through email:
      > y2kbella2000@...
      > RAND
      > Rand African Art <rand@...> wrote:
      > You asked:
      > "Do you have any idea how I could find the value
      > of the headrest?"
      > Are you looking to sell it? Or are you just
      > curious?
      > If you’re just curious:
      > To gauge "market value", you have to look around
      > at websites that are selling similar objects like
      > yours to get a general range of prices, or you have
      > to watch various types of auctions to see what
      > similar objects are selling for. You can get it
      > appraised, but appraisals are worthless and often
      > too expensive for normal objects. In my opinion they
      > are only good for insurance purposes because for
      > most objects you would never be able to sell them
      > for what an appraiser would value them for.
      > You could take it in to a dealer to ask them what
      > they would value it at, but don't tell them you are
      > looking to sell it (if you are) because then why
      > would they give you a high value if it is a good
      > object they may wish to buy from you? If it was an
      > object they really wanted they would give you as low
      > of a value as possible so they could turn it around
      > for a better profit.
      > You could ask a group like this and hope that you
      > would get an honest opinion from people. I'll tell
      > you what I think the market value is on the
      > headrest, but first I want to go through a couple of
      > scenarios with you to show you how "market value"
      > changes depending on different circumstances...
      > If you are looking to sell it, then the value of
      > it can vary because it depends on:
      > 1) The perceived quality of the object itself
      > 2) How the object is presented
      > 3) The market audience the object is presented to
      > I'll give a few examples, as I see it, and my
      > brain is working today so it's a little long winded:
      > 1) If the object (we'll use your headrest) was of
      > high quality, and you were a top dealer selling the
      > object at a place like the San Francisco Tribal and
      > Textile Arts Show, then you'd probably stand a
      > chance of getting top market dollar for the object,
      > assuming it was of really good quality. In the case
      > of Boni headrests at shows like this, "top market
      > value" is between $1200 and $1600. A similar one to
      > yours was being offered by Tribal Gathering London
      > for $1200 I believe in San Francisco this year, it
      > was a really nice one and I almost bought it.
      > In a setting like this you have a great venue to
      > present the object, and the audience at these shows
      > usually consist of serious collectors who can afford
      > to, or are willing to pay higher prices for
      > objects...partly because they come from high end,
      > usually well respected dealers and there is a
      > prestige (for some people) that comes with this.
      > These dealers have already vetted the objects, so
      > even if you don't know better yourself you can take
      > their word that they are top quality.
      > Would the quality really matter though if you
      > bought a Fang figure from Gallery Ratton-Hourde in
      > Paris that was previously in the collection of Ernst
      > Anspach? Probably not. The object, even if it may
      > not be very aesthetically appealing, has a strong
      > pedigree which sometimes is all it takes to give it
      > a higher value. (See message #1170 and the replies
      > to it for some good reading on the matter)
      > John Monroe stated in a message (#1180) to the
      > group:
      > "I've always been intrigued by the way in which a
      > particular dealer's name can
      > serve as a kind of "artist's signature" for African
      > objects offered at major
      > auction houses -- like "Picasso," the name functions
      > not just as a way of
      > creating scarcity, but also as a kind of guarantor
      > of esthetic value. It's
      > almost as if Ratton's, Guillaume's or Simpson's
      > "eye" created the object in
      > the first place."
      > This is further backed up, in my opinion, if you
      > read the interview with Sam and Sharon Singer that I
      > posted a link to (see message #1172). I've copied
      > below the part that really drives it home for me
      > (the underlining and bold is by me)
      > (from
      > http://www.tribalmania.com/INTERVIEWSINGER.htm)
      > Tribalmania: Do your kids and family share your
      > interest in Tribal Art?
      > SAM: Not as much as Sharon and I do. Our twin 15
      > year old boys, are not as interested in the
      > intricate details or cultures as much we are. It
      > is probably one of the those things which every
      > teenage kid has with their parents where they are
      > interested in it but at the same time slightly
      > separate from it. The true sign of their interest
      > in it is when we leave the room and they have some
      > of their pals over. Their friends will say "Jeez,
      > this is some really weird stuff your parents have".
      > Our kids will start to explain it to them, "Oh yeah,
      > that over there is an Abelam piece and comes from
      > New Guinea and Michael Hamson. Those Shaman's masks
      > are from the Himalayas and come from Bob Brundage".
      > "comes from New Guines and Michael Hamson"
      > "from the Himalayas and come from Bob Brundage"
      > When I first read that I just shook my head in
      > disbelief. I mean, as a parent explaining objects in
      > the collection to your kids how do you make the
      > dealers that the objects came from more important
      > than what the objects were used for ,and more
      > important than the people that actually made them???
      > Shouldn't it read something like "that over there
      > is an object from the Abelam people of New Guinea,
      > it was held in the mans mouth in a ceremony to
      > prepare him for battle against his enemy. The object
      > in his mouth has special characteristics and powers
      > and those things are believed to be passed on to the
      > man as he dances with it in his mouth and make him
      > stronger for battle".
      > Yes, Michael Hamson is a well respected dealer and
      > a very nice and knowledgeable person, but why should
      > he be used in the same sentence like that. Maybe
      > Michael Hamson field collected it, but shouldn't the
      > use of the object be more important to pass on to
      > your kids to tell their friends? Maybe to some it
      > isn't.
      > To me it just drives home John Monroe's statement
      > that the dealers name serves as an artist's
      > signature for an object, even though they didn't
      > create the object, thus possibly giving the object
      > more prestige and possibly raising the value...
      > So, that is scenario # 1 as I see it. I'm assuming
      > you don't fall under that category, so we'll move on
      > to the next...
      > 2) Take the same object as we talked about above
      > (your headrest), and say that Sotheby's or
      > Christie's accepted the object to be included in one
      > of their sales. If you read Lee's response to
      > message #1170 you will see that this may not be so
      > easy, but let's say Sotheby's accepted it for
      > discussion purposes.
      > Being that it's a headrest that really has no
      > important provenance, it will most likely go towards
      > the back of the catalog, and hopefully you'll get a
      > color photo of it instead of a black and white one.
      > The caption would read "A fine Boni headrest,
      > Somalia", they would evaluate the object and give it
      > an estimate, maybe $1,000-$2,000 which seems to be
      > their standard estimate on objects that aren't
      > deemed too important by them and they would give
      > some background and state some examples for
      > comparison if there were any similar that were
      > published or at previous auctions. It would go up
      > for auction and maybe it would sell to someone for
      > $1,000 if it tickled their fancy. Then you'd have
      > all of the fees to pay Sotheby's for selling your
      > object and maybe you'd end up with $700 in the end.
      > These
      === message truncated ===

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    • Deborah Ferrara
      Hi, If anyone is interested in this headrest please let me know by Friday, I have a couple of offers and I am going to sell it soon. Thank you. ...
      Message 2 of 10 , Jul 17, 2006
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        If anyone is interested in this headrest please let me
        know by Friday, I have a couple of offers and I am
        going to sell it soon.

        Thank you.

        --- Rand Smith <rand@...> wrote:

        > Hello,
        > Thanks for posting the images of your Boni headrest,
        > it's a beauty in
        > my opinion. It is in a rarer style for Boni
        > headrests, so I have been
        > told.
        > There are a few basic styles and they each have
        > different meanings:
        > 1) Single post type with a single rounded (usually)
        > column as the
        > support.
        > 2) Double post type, which are the more commonly
        > seen ones that have
        > the 2 curved flattened supports like the top portion
        > of yours. There
        > are also double post designs with 2 circular curved
        > columns as the
        > supports.
        > 3) Column and post type that have a single rounded
        > column at the base
        > that leads to the 2 curved flattened supports
        > towards the top (like
        > yours)
        > According from what I have been told, and what I
        > have read, the
        > different types signify different status according
        > to age, and there
        > are possibly different statuses within the different
        > types.
        > Headrests that fall into (1) above- are for younger
        > men, lower status.
        > Headrests that fall into (2) above- are for elders,
        > higher status
        > Headrests that fall into (3) above- since they have
        > qualities from
        > (1) and (2) I would assume (my opinion only) that it
        > would signify a
        > mid-level status, but I have not read anything that
        > specifically
        > notes the significance of the headrests that have
        > qualities of both
        > like yours.
        > I don't have any good reference books that really
        > get into the
        > cultures of Somalia and Kenya, so I don't know if
        > there are age grade
        > initiation type ceremonies that the men pass through
        > that change
        > their status like is done in many cultures, or how
        > their status is
        > acheived.
        > I have been told that Boni headrests that are more
        > decorated signify
        > a higher status, no matter what the age of the
        > person may be - the
        > more elaborate the headrest is, the higher the
        > status is of its owner.
        > I have also read that they may be carved by the
        > owner, or
        > commissioned from an artist. One would assume that
        > someone of more
        > wealth / status would commission one from an artist,
        > and these
        > headrests would stand out because they would be more
        > finely carved
        > with more intricate detail.
        > The designs on the headrests are believed to be of
        > Islamic influence.
        > I have been told that the symbols on the top of the
        > headrests often
        > refer to a person's name (kind of a signature if you
        > will) signifying
        > ownership/identity.
        > I do not know how long there has been Islamic
        > influence in this
        > region, but that would/may help in identifying older
        > headrests from
        > newer ones simply based on style. Variations in
        > style and design may
        > also just be from individual artistic
        > interpretation.
        > I don't know how long the Boni and Somali people
        > have been making
        > headrests, and I don't know of any good reference
        > sources that list
        > ones that have very early documented collection
        > dates so we can see
        > the "older" styles and see if there has been a
        > dramatic change in
        > style over the years.
        > I have done some reading that discusses how the
        > headrests of this
        > region have an Egyptian influence to them. It talks
        > about the
        > migrations of some people down into the Somalia area
        > from Egypt, and
        > talked about the comparisons of the Boni/Somali
        > headrests to some of
        > the Egyptian headrests. It discusses the fact that
        > these people may
        > have influenced, or introduced these styles to this
        > region.
        > If you do a Google image search on "Egyptian
        > headrest", you will see
        > the strong similarities between the two:
        > http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=egyptian%
        > 20headrest&sa=N&tab=wi
        > The website of the American Museum of Natural
        > History in New York
        > identifies their headrests as being "Somali" instead
        > of Boni. They
        > acquired a large part of their collection of objects
        > in the early
        > 1900's
        > ),
        > but on their website they do not list acquisition
        > dates for the
        > Somali/Boni headrests in their collection. You will
        > see that the ones
        > they have are in a little different style than the
        > other ones on the
        > pages on my website (linked below, images of their
        > headrests are on
        > the bottom of the pages). This may just be due to
        > the fact that they
        > collected objects for their ethnographic value
        > instead of their
        > artistic/aesthetic value that we commonly see in
        > other types of
        > museums. (in my opinion)
        > I always say that I do not think you can
        > definitively determine the
        > authenticity of an object from a photograph. From a
        > photograph you
        > can look at the style and other factors about an
        > object that will
        > come into play in the determination of authenticity
        > and these factors
        > will allow someone to make a judgment based on these
        > things. To get a
        > definitive answer on authenticity you would need to
        > have someone who
        > has had a lot of experience with these types of
        > objects look at it in
        > person and evaluate it.
        > As for age, that is also something that is almost
        > impossible to tell
        > from a photograph in my opinion. There are older and
        > traditional
        > styles of objects, but these styles may have changed
        > over the years
        > due to different influences. Pre-colonial objects
        > compared to post-
        > colonial objects of the same type are one example of
        > this. Someone
        > with enough experience may know by looking at
        > examples of 2 similar
        > objects that one is carved in a style of a certain
        > period while the
        > other may be carved in a style from another period.
        > Without
        > documentation of field collection date, or dates of
        > acquisition by an
        > object's previous owner(s), age can only be guessed
        > in my opinion.
        > You also have to know the history of the particular
        > objects in
        > question. Based on field research, it may be able to
        > be determined
        > that specific objects may not have been made before
        > a particular
        > date.
        > It's almost like, for purpose of making my point,
        > looking at an
        > American quarter. Over the years the styles on an
        > American quarter
        > have changed during different periods. If quarters
        > didn't have dates
        > on them, someone would be able to look at a group of
        > quarters in
        > different styles and say that each particular
        > quarter
        === message truncated ===

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