“Suitable for Decoration of Halls and Billiard Rooms”: Finding Indigenous Agency in Historic Auction and Sale Catalogues

Part of the One World Archaeology book series (WORLDARCH)

Abstract

At first glance, auction and sale catalogues of ethnographic artefacts dating to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries appear to record merely the desires of colonial collectors. Our detailed study of changes in proveniences, types and prices shows how an archaeological approach to assemblages coupled with appropriate analytical strategies can uncover changing patterns of negotiation between indigenous makers and western consumers. We begin with a broad regional comparison of cross-cultural interaction as witnessed in the catalogues and then turn to a finer scale case study based on catalogue entries relating to the colony of British New Guinea, commonly called Papua. These analyses provide insights into how indigenous artefact producers and traders in the Pacific region made creative responses to market opportunities.

References

  1. Adams, Monni 2009 Both Sides of the Collecting Encounter: The George W. Harley Collection at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. Museum Anthropology 32: 17–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Annual Reports on British New Guinea (ARBNG) 1886–1902. British Government, London.Google Scholar
  3. Anonymous (editor) 1969 The History of Melanesia: Second Waigani Seminar. Research School of Pacific Studies and the University of Papua New Guinea, Canberra and Port Moresby.Google Scholar
  4. Barton, F. R. 1902–1903 Addendum to report, C.D. Annual Report on British New Guinea, pp. 18–20. British Government, London.Google Scholar
  5. Buschmann, Rainer 2009 Anthropologies Global Histories: The Ethnographic Frontier in German New Guinea, 18701935. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.Google Scholar
  6. Cochrane, Susan and Max Quanchi (editors) 2007 Hunting the Collectors: Pacific Collections in Australian Museums, Art Galleries and Archives. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle.Google Scholar
  7. Daniel, Glynn E. 1975 A Hundred and Fifty Years of Archaeology. Duckworth, London.Google Scholar
  8. Gell, Alfred 1998 Art and Agency. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. Gosden, Chris and Chantal Knowles 2001 Collecting Colonialism: Material Culture and Colonial Change. Berg, London.Google Scholar
  10. Graburn, Nelson H. 1976 Introduction. In Ethnic and Tourist Arts: Cultural Expressions from the Fourth World, edited by Nelson H. Graburn, pp. 1–32. University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  11. Harrison, Rodney 2006 An Artefact of Colonial Desire? Kimberley Points and the Technologies of Enchantment. Current Anthropology 47: 63–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. King, Jonathan C. 2006a Introduction. In Provenance. Twelve Collectors of Ethnographic Art in England 17601990, edited by Hermione Waterfield and Jonathan C. King, pp. 8–15. Somogy Art Publishers, Barbier-Mueller Museum, Geneva.Google Scholar
  13. King, Jonathan C. 2006b W. D. Webster. In Provenance. Twelve Collectors of Ethnographic Art in England 17601990, edited by Hermione Waterfield and Jonathan C. King, pp. 55–60. Somogy Art Publishers, Barbier-Mueller Museum, Geneva.Google Scholar
  14. Kononenko, Nina, Robin Torrence, Huw Barton, and Ariane Hennell 2010 Cross-Cultural Interaction on Wuvulu Island, Papua New Guinea: The Perspective from Use–Wear and Residue Analyses of Turtle Bone Artefacts. Journal of Archaeological Science 37: 2911–2919.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lawes, Reverend William George 1876–1884 Journals. Manuscript on file, Mitchell Library, Sydney.Google Scholar
  16. Legge, J. D. 1972 British New Guinea. In Encyclopedia of Papua and New Guinea, edited by Peter Allen Ryan, pp. 115–121. Melbourne University Press in Association with the University of Papua and New Guinea, Carlton.Google Scholar
  17. Moseley, Henry Nottidge 1892 Notes by a Naturalist: An Account of Observations Made During the Voyages of H.M.S. Challenger. John Murray, London.Google Scholar
  18. Newell, Jennifer 2006 Collecting from the Collectors: Pacific Islanders and the Spoils of Europe. In Cook’s Pacific Encounters, pp. 29–48. National Museum of Australia, Canberra.Google Scholar
  19. O’Hanlon, Michael 1999 ‘Mostly Harmless’? Missionaries, Administrators and Material Culture on the Coast of British New Guinea. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 5: 377–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. O’Hanlon, Michael, and Robert L. Welsch (editors) 2000 Hunting the Gatherers: Ethnographic Collectors, Agents and Agency in Melanesia, 1870s–1930s. Berghahn Books, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  21. Oldman, William Ockelford 1976 Illustrated Catalogue of Ethnographical Specimens from the W. O. Oldman Catalogues (1903–1914). Hales, Wilberg, London.Google Scholar
  22. Oram, Nigel 1982 Pots for Sago: The Hiri Trading Network. In The Hiri in History: Further Aspects of Long Distance Motu Trade in Central Papua, edited by Tom Dutton, pp. 1–35. Pacific Research Monograph 8. The Australian National University, Canberra.Google Scholar
  23. Pearce, Susan 1995 On Collecting: An Investigation into Collecting in the European Tradition. Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  24. Peterson, Nicolas, Lindy Allen, and Louise Hamby (editors) 2008 The Makers and Making of Indigenous Australian Museum Collections. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.Google Scholar
  25. Phillips, Ruth and Christopher Steiner 1999 Art, Authenticity, and the Baggage of Cultural Encounters. In Art and Commodity in Colonial and Postcolonial Worlds, edited by Ruth Phillips and Christopher Steiner, pp. 3–19. University of California Press, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  26. Schildkrout, Enid and Curtis A. Keim (editors) 1998 The Scramble for Art in Central Africa. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  27. Stevens, J. C. 1885–1939 Auction Catalogues with Various Titles. Privately published, London.Google Scholar
  28. Stevens, J. C. 1885 A Catalogue of the Goodwin Collection of Curios (June 23) S6930. Privately published, London.Google Scholar
  29. Stevens, J. C. 1898 A Catalogue of a Choice and Valuable Collection of Curios, July 5 and 6. Privately published, London.Google Scholar
  30. Stevens, J. C. 1907 A Catalogue of the Well-Known Ethnographical Collection Formed by Mr Frank Hyams, During his Sojourn in the South Seas, which include the Fine Old Collection Originally Formed by Mr W. T. Sturt, of Suva, Fiji. S11285 (May 8). Privately published, London.Google Scholar
  31. Stocking, George W. 1968 Race, Culture and Evolution. Essays in the History of Anthropology. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  32. The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia 1903–1936 British New Guinea. Annual Reports. Commonwealth of Australia, Brisbane.Google Scholar
  33. Thomas, Nicholas 1991 Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture, and Colonialism in the Pacific. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  34. Thomas, Nicholas 1994 Colonialism’s Culture: Anthropology, Travel and Government. Polity Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  35. Torrence, Robin 2000 Epilogue. In Hunting the Gatherers: Ethnographic Collectors, Agents and Agency in Melanesia, 1870s–1930s, edited by Michael O’Hanlon and Robert L. Welsch, pp. 273–277. Berghahn Books, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  36. Torrence, Robin 1993 Ethnoarchaeology, Museum Collections and Prehistoric Exchange: Obsidian-tipped Artefacts from the Admiralty Islands. World Archaeology 24: 468–481.Google Scholar
  37. Torrence, Robin 2000 Just Another Trader? An Archaeological Perspective on European Barter with Admiralty Islanders, Papua New Guinea. In The Archaeology of Difference: Negotiating Cross-Cultural Engagements in Oceania, edited by Robin Torrence and Anne Clarke, pp. 104–141. Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  38. Torrence, Robin and Anne Clarke 2000 Negotiating Difference: Practice Makes Theory for Contemporary Archaeology in Oceania. In The Archaeology of Difference: Negotiating Cross-Cultural Engagements in Oceania, edited by Robin Torrence and Anne Clarke, pp. 1–31. Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  39. Trigger, Bruce 1989 A History of Archaeological Thought. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  40. Waterfield, Hermione 2006 William Ockelford Oldman. In Provenance. Twelve Collectors of Ethnographic Art in England 17601990, edited by Hermione Waterfield and Jonathan C. King, pp. 65–77. Somogy Art Publishers, Barbier-Mueller Museum, Geneva.Google Scholar
  41. Webster, W. D. 1895 Catalogue of Ethnological Specimens, Arms and Armour, Prehistoric and Other Curiosities. Volume 1. Privately published, Oxford.Google Scholar
  42. Webster, W. D. 1895–1896 Catalogue of Ethnological Specimens, Western and Eastern Arms and Armour, Prehistoric and Other Curiosities on Sale by W. D. Webster. Volumes 2–10. Privately published, Oxford.Google Scholar
  43. Webster, W. D. 1897–1899 Illustrated Catalogue of Ethnographic Specimens, Western and Eastern Arms and Armour, Prehistoric and Other Curiosities on Sale by W. D. Webster. Volumes 11–20; 23. Privately published, Oxford.Google Scholar
  44. Webster, W. D. 1899, 1900, 1901 Illustrated Catalogue of Ethnographical Specimens in Bronze, Wrought Iron, Ivory and Wood from Benin City, West Africa Taken at the Fall of the City in February 1897 by the British Punitive Expedition under the Command of Admiral Rawson. Volumes 21, 24, 29. Privately published, Oxford and London.Google Scholar
  45. Webster, W. D. 1900–1901 Illustrated Catalogue of Ethnographical Specimens from [a wide range of places] and Other Localities on Sale by W. D. Webster. Volumes 25–28, 30–31. Privately published, Oxford and London.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian MuseumSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.School of Philosophical and Historical InquiryUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Archaeology, School of Philosophical and Historical InquiryUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations