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Mid-19th Century

POLYCHROME SCRIMSHAW WHALE'S TOOTH WITH CIVIL WAR MOTIFS

Obverse with "Onward", a Union slogan and the name of a Union Navy clipper ship, below an eagle perched on a Liberty shield and clutching arrows and olive branches in its talons. The eagle is surrounded by sun rays, American flags and red-centered stars, and the shield balances atop a hemisphere. Reverse depicts a side-wheel steamboat flying a red, white and blue flag, believed to be the Confederate "Stars and Bars", and with smoke billowing from its twin stacks. Line, sawtooth and diamond borders encircle the base.
Length 7".
Condition: Base cut flat. Naturally formed groove runs from base into reverse, approx. 2.5". Typical age lines a tip. Other scattered lines and marks, all commensurate with age and material. Generally well preserved.

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: Notes: The obverse image bears similarities to several Civil War-era Union cachets (decorated envelopes and letterhead). Steamboats were critically important to the Confederacy, as they provided rapid movement of heavy cargo, both military and commercial, up and down inland waterways. The image on the reverse resembles the print "Flagship of the 'Home Squadron', the Confederate States War Steamer [...] July 20, 1861" and some magazine illustrations depicting the steamship Sultana, which exploded and sank on the Mississippi River just north of Memphis on April 27, 1865, killing more than 1,000 people. While the Sultana explosion is still one of the worst maritime disasters in American history, the event was overshadowed in the news by the end of the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The ship was filled over capacity, mostly with Union soldiers who had been released from Confederate prison camps, and the scant number of survivors were rescued by local residents, many of whom had recently been Confederate soldiers.

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