A $50k carved whale’s tooth
A $50k carved whales tooth
Christies is to bring some historic scrimshaw to its Americana auction
Christies is holding an Americana week starting January 21. This includes a day for Important American Folk Art, Furniture, and Decorative Arts (January 22).
One of the great highlights of that sale is a highly decorated scrimshaw whale tooth which conveys both the adventure and loneliness of life aboard a 19th century whaling ship, the Superior from New York.
As noted by engravings on the tooth, the scrimshander was a crewmember aboard the Superior.
Among the finely-detailed drawings on the tooth are the Superior with her three masts, an American eagle and banner inscribed with the word Liberty, and a design of intertwined hearts and roses with the dedication: Amelia/ What are the riches of the world without thee/ When this you see, think of me.
At the base of the tooth, an image of a massive whales tail upending a boat full of men (reminiscent of Moby Dick) is flanked by the mottoes In God We Trust and Bold Yankee Whalemen.
Whale's tooth (both sides)
The attribution to the whaleship Superior is significant; in 1848, it was the first American ship to venture into the Bering Strait to hunt bowhead whales, effectively opening a new chapter in whaling that brought over 250 hunting ships to the area within three years.
In September a whales tooth carved on the Beagle, aboard which Darwin was transported to the Galapagos where he conceived of the idea of evolution by natural selection, sold for $67,340.