Papuan Gulf Shoulder Shield Papuan Gulf Shoulder Shield Christie’s London June 19, 1979, lot 27 In the Oceanic art world James Hooper was best known for his top-quality Polynesian material. Yet, he also had some great New Guinea pieces. This fantastic Papuan Gulf shoulder shield is a case in point. It is undoubtably one of the earliest extant with great expression on both spirit faces. The clear wide-open eyes are charmingly asymmetrical and the mouths are full of sharp menacing teeth. If you look close there appears to be some real volume and three-dimensional quality to the area above the forehead. The undulating lines that demark the area around the two faces and the nicely rounded base of the shield also suggest an early, archaic nature. As these Papuan Gulf shoulder shields go it would be hard to find one better. I only wish that back in 1979 I was precocious 15-year-old Oceanic art collector instead of a nerdy high-schooler spending his time fishing, collecting coins and throwing the discus for the track team. At the auction the shield sold for 600 UK Pounds which in today’s dollars would be just over $5000—which at my then $5 a week allowance would have taken me 1000 weeks to pay off.