Eldred's - Auctioneers, Appraisers

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Item Details

Lot #8
Low Estimate$60,000.00
High Estimate$80,000.00
Last UpdatedOctober 9, 2019


An exceedingly large tooth with a detailed whaling scene covering nearly the entire obverse, described in a 2005 letter from Dr. Stuart M. Frank, then curator of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, as a "terrific piece of scrimshaw - 24-carat masterpiece".
Depicts the whaling barque Fawn under sail and four whaleboats in pursuit of a pod of fourteen visible whales, two of which are waifed with differing flags. Each whaleboat is manned by six distinctly rendered whalemen. In the background is a steeply sloping land mass, believed to be Little Barrier Island, located at the top of New Zealand's North Island. Some elements are deeply engraved, particularly the ship's hull. Titled below the scene in decorative serifed lettering. Scene is bordered at top with a foliate garland.

The finely wrought ocean and the variation in engraving to delineate the land and sky are commensurate with the work of W.L. Roderick and other masters of the craft.

Accompanied by substantial research material, two articles about record scrimshaw sales, and correspondence with Stuart M. Frank, Dr. Janet West of the University of Cambridge's Scott Polar Research Institute, Arthur G. Credland, co-author with Janet West of Scrimshaw: the Art of the Whaler, Lynette Townsend of the Museum of New Zealand, and other librarians and museum staff.

According to these materials, the waters around New Zealand's North Island were a popular whaling ground for British whalers in the first half of the 19th Century. The Fawn, out of London, was built at Topsham in 1807 and made seven voyages to the South Sea whale fishery from 1820 to 1844 under Captains Thomas Allen and Charles Dale, as well as Captains Gardner and Dunn, whose first names are unknown. The 112-foot, 436-ton vessel was owned by John Lydecker until 1832; there are no ownership records after 1832. Length 9".

Based on accompanying paperwork, the tooth was purchased at a sale of contents from the Ursuline Convent in Blackrock, Cork, Ireland, circa 2001. The tooth had been in a display case in the convent school's art room, but there is no record of why or how long it had been in the convent's possession.

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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