Fiona Bruce and the Antiques Roadshow were at Windermere Jetty Museum in the Lake District last week, having invited the locals to bring down their treasures. One item which was valued by expert Ronnie Archer-Morgan in the new BBC series was a tribal mask and when he revealed the price tag, the owner was simply blown away.
“This is a great looking thing, I mean, it’s real sculpture, it’s very decorative,” Ronnie kicked off. “To some people, it would be spooky. Do you know where it’s from?”
And the guest replied: “I think it’s Nigerian,” to which Ronnie confirmed it was; “Yes it is. It’s from the ‘Ebo’ or Igbo in southeastern Nigeria. How does it come to be with you?”
“I grew up in Kenya so we always had African things around the house,” the owner revealed.
But the expert noted: “This is from the other side of the continent.”
“It is, yes,” the man said. “I was in my 20s and I walked past a junk shop in Swansea and I saw it in the front and it was apparently from a house clearance form somebody who used to live in Africa.
“I went in and it was quite a lot of money for me. I paid £100,” he added, mentioning it was purchased in 1996.
“That was a fair amount,” BBC viewers saw Ronnie comment and the man continued: “That was most of my beer money for that month. I’ve never regretted paying it.”
As for what the item would’ve been used for, Ronnie said: “Masks were a part of a ceremonial costume. This is a helmet mask.
“I can see from the colour inside and the patina and the wear on here, that this has been worn and danced and then you would have had a costume with probably grass skirt – something that moved.
“And they would [them] use to represent spirits and ancestors and the dancer would have really got into character and become the spirit or ancestor that he was representing.”
“I’ve only ever put it on my head once, and it felt wrong,” the man stated.
“You didn’t have the rest of the ceremonial costume?” Ronnie joked before adding: “It’s 20th century, and masks like this, especially with this power, are quite popular for people that collect tribal art, and really a place where this mask would be Paris, first of all, and maybe New York.
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“They have sales especially for this quality, this type of thing.”
As for how much the item was worth, Ronnie revealed: “A mask like this would have a pre-auction estimate, I think, of £3,000 to £5,000.”
“Wow, I didn’t think it was anything like that. That’s a lot of money,” the owner replied.
“It’s a great looking thing. And I’d have this on my shelf any day of the week,” Ronnie added.
“Well, I’m taking it home with me, I’m afraid,” the man concluded.