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Mid-19th Century

SCRIMSHAW WHALE'S TOOTH DEPICTING LADY LIBERTY, ATTRIBUTED TO SAMUEL W. TENNEY

Tenney is also known as the "King of the Sea" artist. Coastal scene wraps around the circumference, depicting a barefoot and helmeted Liberty holding aloft a chalice and grasping a stars and stripes shield at her side. She stands beside a fouled anchor, a pile of cannonballs and an urn-topped monument draped in American flags, and she gazes out at a ship at sea. At the tip, an eagle entwined with a "Liberty and Freedom" banner drinks from the chalice. Great patina and the slight blue-green coloration typically seen on Tenney scrimshaw.
Length 5.25".
Condition: **This item is not available for international delivery. Please be aware of your local regulations regarding the sale of marine mammal parts and bid accordingly. **

The absence of a condition report does not imply an object is free of defects. All items may have normal signs of age and wear commensurate with their age; these issues will likely not be mentioned in the condition report. Please contact Eldred's before the auction with any condition questions. Questions about condition will not be answered after purchase. Condition reports are provided as a courtesy, and we are not responsible for any errors or omissions. Important note on frames: Frames are not guaranteed to be in the same condition as they are in the item photograph. Due to handling and shipping, many frames, especially antique ones, are prone to losses. If you have questions about the condition of a frame, please contact us prior to the auction. 

  • Provenance:
    Nina Hellman Antiques, Nantucket, Massachusetts, January 26, 2015.

    Notes:
    Samuel W. Tenney's identity was uncovered by scrimshaw historian Michael Gerstein through a tooth in the collection of Historic New England. Tenney was born in Oxford, Massachusetts and served in the Navy aboard the U.S.S. "Brandywine" and later on the whaleship "Fenelon" of New Bedford. Examples of Tenney teeth to come to market at Eldred's include Lot #623 in the November 21, 2013 auction and Lots #31 and 233 in the July 25, 2019 auction, one from the collection of Paul Vardeman and the other from the collection of Sam and Donna McDowell. A similar tooth to this one is illustrated in Wandering Whalemen and Their Art: A Collection of Scrimshaw Masterpieces by Alan Granby (Hyannis Port, Mass.: 2021), p. 75-76, and another in Scrimshaw and Scrimshanders, Whales and Whalemen by E. Norman Flayderman (New Milford, Ct.: N. Flayderman & Co., Inc., 1972), p. 6, which was sold at Eldred's, July 25, 2019, Lot #2.

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