New Orleans Voodoo clock valued at $250,000

A New Orleans Voodoo clock is among the most interesting lots of Sotheby's January 22-23 Americana auction.

The lot dates to 1928 and is believed to have been carved in the city, although the maker is unknown. A handwritten chalk inscription in the cornice reads "Mother's Old Voodoo Clock".

New Orleans Voodoo
The New Orleans Voodoo clock is decorated with snakes and female figures

It's ornately carved with snakes, wild animals and female forms.

The pendulum and globe are of French origin, while the case is carved from cottonwood - a species of tree native to Louisiana.

Dr Babatunde Lawal of Virginia Commonwealth University explains: "This 'Voodoo' case clock most likely derives the label from its discovery in Louisiana and from the motifs adorning it, especially the female figure and snakes—two motifs that loom large in Louisiana's 'voodoo' rituals."

Voodoo arrived in America along with West African slaves in the 15th century. It mixes ancient African religious practices with western Catholicism and mysticism.

The lot is valued at $150,000-250,000.

Other lots in the sale include James Bard's painting of paddle steamer The Kaaterskill (1884), which carries an identical estimate.

Bard was a marine artist who painted thousands of portraits of American steamships.

His work is highly sought after today, with his The Steamboat Austin (1853) painting selling for $161,000 last year.

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