Eldred's - Auctioneers, Appraisers

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Item Details

Lot #1
Sold For$380,000.00(hammer price)
 $456,000.00(price including buyer's premium)
Last UpdatedAugust 4, 2017


Sold for record $456,000, inclusive of buyer's premium, at The Marine Sale, July 20, 2017.

Inscribed on lower edge Engraved, By. Edward Burdett. Of Nantucket. Onboard Of The Ship Wm Tell." Obverse titled "Wm Tell. Of. New York. Cutting. Boiling. & Fast To A Whale." Depicts the American whaleship William Tell flying a large American flag off her stern. A whaleboat off her bow is in the process of capturing a surfaced sperm whale. Another American whaleship, the George and Susan, is depicted near the tip. Reverse titled "Wm Thomson. Homeward Bound. Full." Depicts the American whaleship William Thomson flying a large American flag, an agent's flag off the foremast, a waving pennant off the midmast and a house flag off the stern mast. A coastal lighthouse and house is off the bow. Exceptional details throughout including a lookout in a mast and a rooster-form weather vane atop the lighthouse. A stylized foliate vine, typical of Burdett's style, wraps almost completely around the circumference of the base. Extensive use of red sealing wax in flags, whale and whale blubber. Ship's hull, sperm whale, whaleboat, pennant, house flag and American flags carved in relief. Length 8".

From the inscription, we know the tooth presented here was created while Edward Burdett was onboard the ship William Tell, which left New York in November 1829 and returned to port in February 1833. It is likely the William Tell encountered the ships William Thomson and George and Susan while in the Pacific whaling grounds. Given that the William Thomson sailed from New Bedford in October 1830 and returned August 1834, and that the George and Susan sailed from New Bedford January 1830 and returned July 1833, we can further surmise the tooth was created sometime between October 1830 and February 1833.

Edward Burdett was a pioneer of American scrimshaw, and in his short but prolific career he produced what are widely considered masterpieces of the genre. He was born on Nantucket in October 1805, the son of a merchant sea captain. His first whaling voyage was aboard the
Foster from 1822 to 1824. In successive voyages he sailed aboard the William Tell and the Montano. In November 1833, while serving as first mate onboard the Montano, Burdett was entangled in line, dragged by a whale overboard, and drowned.

Private collection for the past twenty-four years.


Small chip on lower edge of tip, with a slight age crack. Old shallow chips to inside of base, and slight age cracks at base.

The description of the item above may not be the final version used in the catalog. The descriptions are as yet unedited and may contain mistakes. The description, estimates and photos could all be wrong. In rare cases they may not end up in this sale. Once the items have received their lot number the descriptions will have been changed if needed.

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