Tribal Art Certificates of Provenance and Authenticity
Every piece Fine Tribal Gallery sells, comes with a Provenance certificate with a full market appraisal. Wherever possible, the certificate will state exactly which village the item was found in, and when - and if known, the villager who owned the piece, or the Chief whom agreed for it to be sold. If from a private collection in the West, the previous owner will be stated, and often their contact details will be given separately, as well as any other documentary evidence available to us. Please note, due to proliferation of copies and fakes abundant in the tribal market today, we will NEVER sell an item from a 'Private Collection', unless there is 'acceptable' provenance or proof of age which can be verified by Steve Thanni or our team.
All certificates are signed by the authenticators, and the issue of a certificate from us, assures that the information contained within it is correct and verified. There is a 3 month 'no questions asked' 100% Money Back Guarantee on ALL items we sell. Most Galleries in Paris, Brussels and New York offer certain measures of guarantees, but to our knowledge, FTG are the only certified Gallery who offer this for up to 3 months, and offer a 100% guarantee.
PRIVATE COLLECTION PIECES
We check the provenance by documentation, photographs, calatogues etc of all pieces we procure, or have collected over the years from private collections. This includes pieces donated to us by collectors or other dealers, to help procure funds for our aid projects in West Africa. We check as many details as possible, and have a wealth of experience, source materials and knowledge banks available to help us perform 'due diligence', on behalf of our customers.
PIECES FOUND IN AFRICAN VILLAGES
We have been tribal hunters in Africa for over a decade. Over the years, we have visited countless villages, and drunk bush tea with a great number of Chiefs and Elders, at some of the remotest areas in Liberia, Cote D'Ivoire, Guinea and Mali to name just a few.
Due to our aid work with villagers, we have established a wonderful network of Chiefs & Elders who proactively help us to find rare pieces in their and other tribes. It is fair to say that most good pieces have been taken out of Africa many years ago, and are now in private collections, or museums. However, not everything was taken historically - if one hunts around and is 'trusted'.. many gems are still to be found. Our aid work with children and villages, enables trust and gratefulness which in turn allows us to be offered / loaned pieces to sell with a promise of aid / money to come from such sales in time.
We verify all the information we are 'told' relating to pieces we are offered in Africa. There are a plethora of fakes, and 'copies' abound everywhere - although not so much in the remote villages, far from the copy markets in towns. Obviously, in the villages, many still try to artificially age wooden artifacts using traditional potions, exposing pieces to the elements and insect infestations etc to created weathered looks and even patina! We have even seen evidence of 'drying' younger woods over small fires periodically. After a few years, one becomes quite expert at spotting the signs, and also we have a wonderful team of Africans who travel with us wherever we go who are far more critical than our European contingent!
Obviously, much debate ensues, and questions are continually asked about pieces we are interested in procuring, and this only happens after talking to several elders to corroborate the dates and tribal useage history stated.
We are experienced at creating timelines and use our experience and knowledge of olden day carving methods and even master carvers, to ascertain the quality, and age of pieces. Steve Thanni is an expert on 'symbology' and 'scarifications' used by a multitude of tribes which also helps us to judge and authenticate pieces, as copy carvers rarely understand the importance of having the correct symbols in the right places, and often try to embellish slightly to make a piece more aesthetically pleasing to Western buyers and collectors.
We randomly use spectroscopy testing on pieces found or if we have doubts at all, and we confer a lot with other tribal experts we know well in Paris and even the USA.. We perform 'due diligence' at all times, and have never knowingly sold a tribal piece we have known to be a 'fake' or a 'copy' which we did not believe had been used in a village, tribally in some way.
All evidence we gather, is supplied, or made available to buyers of such pieces upon request, if available. We also offer 100% money back guarantees for 3 months on most pieces, and also supply our own Authenticity certificates on all pieces we sell which details where the item was found, and states provenance.
NOTE: No one can 100% guarantee that a tribal piece has not been 'copied'. Even tests like carbon dating or spectroscopy can give 'false' results sometimes, depending on the type of material, such as wood or bronze / pottery etc. Ultimately, it is usually the 'trained eye' of one who has seen many similar pieces over a multitude of years that authenticates the best, this experience also lends itself well to being able to authenticate 'provenance'. There are undoubtedly 'copies' in some of the greatest museums, and in the most revered collections - just really good ones, perhaps carved from that elusive 'old' piece of wood found buried for a century... just not that many that can fool experienced dealers!