Rare Maori Sewing Box by James Edward Little (1876-1953), New Zealand
Wood, glass, shell, fabric
6 by 12 3/4 by 8 1/2in (15.2 by 32.5 by 21.5cm)
English Private Collection
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Carved by the notorious forger James Edward Little with almost every design element of Maori art known.
"Little was a furniture restorer who supplemented his income by dealing in authentic ethnographic artefacts and, eventually, by faking them, specialising in Polynesian, and particularly Maori, objects. He made several similar free-standing figures, one of which, bought in 1910 by a New Zealand collector, W. H. Skinner, is now in the National Museum of New Zealand in Wellington. Little's business, which he operated worldwide by mail order, flourished for nearly twenty years. His activities were first discovered in 1910 by the collector-dealer William Oldman after Little had made and sold a pair of Marquesan stilt steps (Watt 1982). Little's fakes still appear occasionally in sales even today." (The British Museum, WEB, R. J. Watt, 'James Edward Little's Forged Marquesan Stilt Steps', Records of the National Museum of New Zealand 2, no. 7 (1982, pp. 49-63).