Just What is an Ethnographic Art Auction?

You may have noticed that in the past year, Quinn’s Auction Galleries in Falls Church has had a series of Ethnographic Art Auctions. You may be asking yourself, “What exactly are Ethnographic Arts?” These are objects created by indigenous groups such as Native Americans, Africans, Pre-Columbians, and Oceanic Islanders. In short, they are the items many call “tribal art.”

These items include those made for religious and secular use within these cultures such as masks, figural sculptures, architectural elements, textiles, clothing, instruments, jewelry, furniture, and many more. Sometimes the items are decorative or made specifically for sale, and at other times the objects are used by the people themselves.

As with all art, there are varying degrees of craftsmanship, history, and desirability among dealers and collectors that affect auction values. One of the things collectors look for most is a history of appropriate cultural use. These signs may vary from the way an object is painted to how the holes on a mask or the facial features of a statue have worn over time; all can have a huge effect on auction value.

Quinn’s Auction Galleries has notably been selected to sell the Inventory and Collection from the Merton D. Simpson Estate. This Estate boasts an important collection of African, Oceanic, and Native American art in addition to a vast collection of fine art. Part 1 took place on October 1 of this year, there will, however be additional opportunities to see and bid on this important group of objects. Join us for Part 2 on December 3, 2016 and more in Spring 2017.