What’s it worth? Appraisal of tourist issue tribal weapons



I have a set of possible headhunter weapons brought back at the end of the Korean War by an Air Force officer.  This was given as a gift to his brother and all those parties are now deceased and his son now is in possession and has brought it in to us to sell for him. 

The original purchaser had access to all the islands in S.E. Asia because he was a pilot and regularly flew around the area.  We are not sure if the box was built by him to transport this set or even if this is a set.  The bow and arrows are bamboo but we are unsure of the other pieces.  The metal looks like it was hand hammered and filed.  The spear has a hand grooved wooden screw. 

We are not sure of the age but we think it was early 1900’s.  We have searched around online for other pieces similar to this one and have not been able to identify the origin or any clues to where it comes from or what it’s value is.  Any help you can provide us in identifying and valuating these pieces would be greatly appreciated.


tribal spearpost wwII speartribal weapon tourist versiontribal weaponrytribal weapontribal weaponry in box

AW: Actually I believe the box is original. What we have here is a post WWII tribal weaponry display that is a kind of tourist version. 

The reason we know this is:

The lack of aged patina

The collar on the knife was quickly done, and the fact that the tine does not go through the handle all the way. The screw for the spear shaft to break down into two parts is something no authentic tribesman would have executed. It was made this way to break down for the box, and/or to compact for travel. 

The artwork is too fresh and the lines on all the pieces are too sharp, and indicate modern era work.

Circa: Post WWII

  • Retail value: $150- $225 for the set
  • Wholesale value: $75-$95
  • Quick Sale: $50


  • Tribal weaponry
  • South Pacific
  • Bow and Arrow
  • Spear


What’s it worth? Appraisal of carved ivory or bone chess set

David says:

I did a lot of searching, and I noticed your blog.  I liked your honest responses to the inquiries, the frequency in which you update and thought your price for a general appraisal was more than fair.

 My grand mother went to Hong Kong in the early 70’s for a few years.  She bought a whole house full of stuff and had it shipped back.  When she died I was given my pick of anything in the house.  I chose (among other things) an ivory chess set. I have tested the ivory with a hot pin and nothing melted. Each piece is intact, it is stored very well. The pawns are about 2.5” tall, and the king and queen are almost 6” tall. The Black side seems to be stained, possibly with tea.  

The King and Queen on both sides have small stones that are turquoise and red. I’m not sure what kind of stone they are. I have attached photos.  I don’t know if you can receive large attachments, but I have photos of the front and back of each piece. You can download a zip file at http://www.pixelkarma.com/chess_lowres.zip. I have full size (15mp) macro images if you need to see them.

I’m not sure if this is your specialty, but I think you may be able to give me enough information to answer my question:  Is this something that is worth looking into in a serious way, or, should I just enjoy it and not waste time trying to (potentially) sell it?

 I appreciate your time and advice,


ivory chess set signed bottom

ivory asian chess

asian chess piece


AW says: Thanks David, I try. 

The White ones represent the Ming Dynasty, the brown represents the Qing Dynasty.

This is a great vintge Asian Chess chess set which is artfully crafted. Although pics on the net can be hard to see, a look at the forms and details of the pieces indicates a skilled craftsman. 

That and the stones, likely Turquoise and (I would not know what the red stone is from here) indicate a sincere appreciation for the job and effort presented.)

That said, I also have to say note the second pic down, the shape and lines of the hand and the lines on the inflex of the base, I’d have to say that at least some of the work on these was done with automatic-machine assisted tools. (Not uncommon for a lot of vintage Asian carvings)

 This is a wonderful set no matter what the process.

Circa 1940s to 1970

  • Retail value: $1,250
  • Wholesale: $450
  • Quick Sale: $300


  • Chess set
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Historical Ivory (You should identify it as such when you sell it. This simply means it was carved before the ivory ban)
  • Bone (not likely bone, but if you were selling this, it would be beneficial to enter bone as a keyword)
  • hand carved
  • machine assisted

What’s it worth? Appraisal for Pine Trestle dinette set

Dan asks: What can you tell me about my Trestle table set? There are 4 chairs  and the table.

pine trestle dinette setpine dinette set
AW says
Your set is a circa 1960-70s dinette set made of pine, fashioned after a colonial era, medieval style set.  It has what would be referred to as Naugahyde upholstery, and likely brass rivets. It appears to have the original upholstery which is in nice condition. 
This has a good amount of charm which is what should sell it.  For someone to buy it at retail, you may have to wait a bit. But it could be worth it because the buyer who gets emotional about this set is gong to really want it. It’s cute.
Retail value: $350-$375
Wholesale: $125
Quick sale: $75
Trestle table set
1960s-70s pine furniture
colonial style 
dinette set