A shield brought to Sunderland by a crocodile hunter will be up for action later this month.
The large ornate tribal shield from Papua New Guinea that was lovingly dubbed ‘George’ by the Wearside family that owned it is to be auctioned in Newcastle.
George is a rare decorative shield featuring an inlaid head with carved shell roundel eyes surrounded by masks and oval motifs.
Measuring 177 x 42cm, the shield was made by the Sawos tribe from Middle Sepik in Papua New Guinea and was brought back to England by crocodile hunter Dan Rolph.
It is being sold at the Anderson & Garland Fine Art Sale on Tuesday and Wednesday on behalf of Brenda Rolph, Dan’s sister-in-law.
Mrs Rolph, who lives in East Herrington, said: “Dan had been away for years, I only met him once when he’d retired from killing crocodiles.
“He’d gone off to Australia to see the wildlife and then went to work for a couple of well-known crocodile shooters in Papua New Guinea.
"He went into buying native curios and he had a lot of contacts in Australia to sell them.”
Mrs Rolph met Dan when he returned home to see his sick father and brought a number of collectibles with him to sell.
She said: “He left my husband to get in touch with people and sell the stuff but let him choose any pieces he liked first. My husband was an architect and he liked George so much he insisted on having him in his study.”
The name George was created by Mrs Rolph.
She said: “That was my fault.
“When my oldest son was baby in a pram, we had it in the hall on the wall and he was a bit frightened when he saw it and was going to cry.
"I said: ‘That’s George, come and meet George’.
“I was always quite happy living with him all those years but neither of my children wanted to keep him.
"If it goes somewhere to somebody who wants it, it’ll be much better.”
George is currently residing with auctioneer Fred Wyrley-Birch’s office ahead of the sale.
He said: “It’s a rare and extremely decorative piece. He looks like a surfboard, he’s wonderful.
“There is a large collectors’ market for tribal artefacts because they are rare and difficult to find. Although there are a lot of tourist souvenirs, period items that have been used by locals in battle are far harder to come by.”
George has an estimated value of £500 to £800 and is part of Dan Rolph’s larger collection which is going under the hammer, including carved wooden masks and an archive of pictures from his travels.
For more information, visit www.andersonandgarland.com.