Lot 1
  • 1

Northwest Coast Whalebone Club, probably Haida

25,000 - 35,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Whalebone (humpback whale)
with a pierced, circular pommel, grooved grip, and expanding blade of rectangular section with seven triangular cut-outs along the lower edge, very finely carved with a killer whale, with flaring nostrils, parted lips, teeth bared, and pointed oval eye rims, additional totemic animals including a bird with recurved beak on the posterior section, the flattened upper edge decorated with a series of vertebrae; aged, creamy patina overall.


Collected by John Moresby at Skittaget sic (Haida)

By family descent to the present owner

Catalogue Note

John Moresby, for whom an Island south of Queen Charlotte Island is named, wrote an account of his voyage to the Northwest Coast entitled Two Admirals, the first edition published in 1909. In the book he writes: "We mixed freely with the tribe and noted the skill of these Indians in carving whale's teeth with rough but unmistakable charm. On June 7 we left Fort Rupert and left for the Queen Charlotte Island, 130 miles distant. Met the Skittaget Tribe now recognized as the finest, most advanced in the arts of any the Northwest Coast tribes. Our business was to report on the gold prospects."

For a related example and discussion of whale bone clubs see Thomas Vaughan and Bill Holm, Soft Gold, 1982, p.62: "This may be a seal-killing club, rather than a war club. Many northern seal clubs, generally of wood, were carved as killer whales or sea lions, both of which prey on seals. The figures seem to be standardized to such clubs and probably do not have a crest significance."