African art, jazz, coins on the menu at Gray’s Auctioneers Feb. 20


Luba tribe (Democratic Republic of Congo) carved and painted wood moon mask, 20th century, with almond-shaped eyes, a small nose and prominent mouth, 17½ inches tall. Estimate: $80-$120. Gray’s Auctioneers image

CLEVELAND – A mid-week auction featuring an exciting decorative collection of African sculptures and masks, followed by a single-owner collection of jazz recordings and finishing with an impressive collection of American coins will be held Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 10 a.m. Eastern time by Gray’s Auctioneers. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

“This auction is an eclectic grouping of subjects,” commented Serena Harragin of Gray’s Auctioneers. “However, it is well documented that the arts of Africa were a major influence on the art and music made in the United States and Europe in the early 20th century. So, we chose to follow the group of African sculptures and masks (lots 1-78) with a superb collection of jazz recordings” (lots 79-406).

Harragin continued, “The art of Africa was discovered by those wealthy travelers of the early 20th century who brought back African treasures. So, too, was it the wealthy elites of the jazz age whose embrace of jazz brought it to the masses. Thus, the auction ends with money, and some of the most desirable coins of the 20th century.” Many of the coins (lots 407-529) are in multiples.

The auction provides a rare opportunity for collectors to break into the three main categories, or add to their existing collections, at very attractive price points. Bidding on many lots starts at under $100.

African artifacts with estimates of $80-$120, for example, include a Luba tribe (Democratic Republic of Congo) carved and painted wood moon mask with almond-shaped eyes, 17½ inches tall (above); a pair of Ivory Coast carved and painted wood Guro masks – a scorpion and an antelope, 25¼ inches tall; and a Senufo tribe (Ivory Coast) brass Kpelie initiation mask, 11½ inches tall. All are from the 20th century.

A handful of African lots have slightly higher estimates. These include a 20th-century Salampasu tribe from Zaire (below) carved wood and copper ceremonial mask with a fiber ball coiffeur and plaited fiber and ball beard (est. $150-$250); and a pair of 20th-century Nyamezi (Central Tanzania) carved wood figures – a male and a female, with inset beaded eyes – together on a metal stand, 68 inches tall (est. $100-$200).


Salampasu tribe (Zaire) carved wood and copper ceremonial mask, 20th century, having fiber ball coiffeur, plaited fiber and ball beard, 19 inches tall. Estimate: $150-$250. Gray’s Auctioneers image

Other lots with $100-$200 estimates include a 20th-century Yoruba tribe (Nigeria) carved wood Ibeji female figure, 11¼ inches tall; a 20th-century Benin brass figure of a seated female, 15½ inches tall; and a 20th-century carved wood and metal Bamana Ntomo (Mali) mask, 18 inches in height.

The jazz recordings are from the single-owner collection of James Seidelle, who passed away in July last year. He was one of the inventors of the flight simulator, which teaches pilots how to fly. He was also a talented jazz drummer, a skillful photographer and a lifelong collector. Over 80 years he amassed a superb toy collection (sold by Gray’s in December 2014), and a cherished jazz records collection. His musical instruments and a rare Slingerland drum set will be offered in Gray’s March 2019 auction.

Just a few highlights from Seidelle’s vast collection of jazz recordings will include a group of four Miles Davis vinyl LPs (below) from various labels, being sold as one lot; a group of four Benny Goodman 10- inch shellac 78 album sets from Columbia Records; an autographed Woody Herman 10-inch shellac 78 album, signed by Herman, along with 11 Herman 10-inch shellac 78s; a Bunk Johnson red 10-inch vinyl LP from American Music Records; and a Billy Bauer vinyl LP from Norgran Records (all 20th century).


Four Miles Davis vinyl LPs from various labels, 20th century. Estimate: $80-$120. Gray’s Auctioneers image

Also going up for bid will be Volumes I, II and III of The Complete Commodore Jazz Recordings, published by Commodore Music Shop (Mosaic MR32-123), being offered as three separate lots (each lot est. $100-$200); a group of 10 Billie Holliday vinyl LPs from various labels; and a sealed Hank Jones Quartet-Quintet vinyl LP from Savoy Records. All the above lots (except the Commodore set) have estimates of $80-$120.

The 19th- and 20th-century American coins will be led by a group of four partial sets of Morgan silver half dollars from 1878-1921, including 70 coins of unknown mints (est. $3,000-$3,200); a group of 73 pre-1921 Morgan silver dollars of various mints, circulated and uncirculated (est. $1,800-$2,000); and a 1924 Saint-Gaudens gold coin in circulated condition (below).


1924 $20 Saint-Gaudens gold coin, circulated. Estimate: $1,500-$1,700. Gray’s Auctioneers image

Also up for bid will be a group of six gold coins from Mexico, all from the 20th century in circulated condition, including 50, 20, 10, 2, 2.5 and 5 Peso coins of various dates and unknown mints (est. $3,600-$3,800); a group of four 1986 gold American Eagle coins, circulated (est. $3,000-$3,200); and a group of four 1910 and 1914 gold type coins, circulated, and of unknown mints (est. $3,000-$3,200).


Four 1986 gold American Eagle coins, circulated. Estimate: $3,000-$3,200. Gray’s Auctioneers

For details contact Gray’s Auctioneers & Appraisers at or 216-226-3300.