STONE-CARVED TROBRIAND ISLAND MASSIM SWORD CLUB, OLD LABEL
New Guinea, Trobriand Islands, Milne Bay, Massim People (Provenance: Collected
by William Campbell Thomson in 1897. He was born in 1855 in Glasgow,
Scotland. Captain William Campbell Thomson’s obituary notes that he commanded
A.U.S.N. steamers from 1875 to 1919 most notably, the “Arawatta”, “Aramac”, “Levuka”,
“Wyreema”, “Wyandra” and “Wodonga”. During his 44 years of service, he traveled
the eastern Australian coast, New Guinea, New Caledonia, Fiji and other parts of
the South Pacific. Thomson was a well respected seaman who was the author of at
least three publications including “Gulf of Carpentaria”, “History of the N.E.
Coast of Australia” and “The Early History of Australia”. He was captain of the
Croydon when it was chartered by Alexander Agassiz, the famous American
scientist and engineer, on a voyage from Brisbane to Cooktown in April/May 1896.
Thomson gathered a very fine collection of items, including items from
inhabitants of northern Queensland, PNG and Fiji. Part of the collection, left
to one of his daughters, Eulie Round (born Esther Eulalie Thomson), rested in a
house in Caloundra, Queensland, from 1935 until it was moved to Brisbane many
decades later. This part of the collection numbers over 20 items, including
oceanic artefacts. Ex.
Collection of Paul Harris Anchorage Alaska. Ex. Michael Hamson 2004.
Apparently sold at an Australian auction in 1986.
mid 19th century
Wood, Lime, red pigments
recently had the opportunity acquire back this ancient club I previous sold.
It is rare pre-contact example worked with shell and stone tools. It has
an ancestor face raising from the top between its forked head. The snakes
are beautifully relief-carved and have whimsical heads on each end. Below
the handgrip is another face and the back of the hand has old collection numbers
in white paint "24".
The most important feature the club has is its original 19th century hand
written label which is about 80 percent intact. The label refers to it as
a "trident" and naively speculates and rambles about the meaning of the imagery,
refers to the lost continent of Atlantis etc... It it written in classic
19th century "sailor
fantasy" but the label IS ORIGINAL and is very important for dating the piece!
The bottom portion of the text is quite legible: the name
The name of the ship:
and then Cooktown,
Length: 25.75" (65.5 cm), Width 3.25" (8.5 cm)
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