First Half of the 19th Century


Obverse depicts a whaling scene of a whaleship, three six-man whaleboats, one of which has been stoved by a sperm whale, a flock of birds, and a waif flag in the water. Whaleship with finely rendered rigging and sails with distinct reef points. Whimsical depiction of the water, which is shaped loosely as a sperm whale but terminating in a spiral at both ends. Reverse depicts a ship off a coastal lighthouse. The ship, which has the same finely rendered rigging and sails as the one on the obverse, is flying a large American flag off the stern, a long red pennant from the mainmast, and a smaller pennant from the foremast. Stippled and crosshatched composition of the water, which also terminates in spirals. Tip encircled by a harlequin band, above which is an anchor and a looping length of rope. Harlequin and shaded bands encircle base.

Accompanied by a copy of a letter from Kristina Barbara Johnson, in which she describes the tooth as a favorite from her collection, which is why it was not offered for sale in the Sotheby's auctions in the early 1980s. The letter also relays how she purchased the tooth from Leon Stark, how she used it in lectures, on television programs and in museum exhibitions, and how she believes it to be an early example, circa 1820s. A copy of a Certificate of Authenticity signed by Johnson is also included, as is a copy of a 1998 Scrimshaw Examination Report by the Kendall Whaling Museum. In the cover letter included with the Kendall report, Stuart M. Frank, Ph.D., Director, describes it as "quite an excellent piece of authentic, antique whalemen's scrimshaw -- though, in my view, not as early ... as Barbara seems to think it is".
Length 8". Includes stand.
Condition: Scattered spots of discoloration, but generally well-preserved.
Does not sit perfectly on stand.
This item not available for international delivery.

  • Provenance:
    Antique dealer Leon Stark of Philadelphia, late 1960s.
    Barbara Johnson Whaling Collection.
    Purchased directly from Barbara Johnson by Hyland Granby Antiques, Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, June 30, 1998.
    The Collection of Ian R. MacKenzie.

    This tooth bears several similarities to the Moses Denning tooth seen in Ingenious Contrivances, Curiously Carved by Stuart M. Frank (Boston: David R. Godine, 2012), fig. 4.3 , including the sails and reef points on the ship, the long pennants, the flock of gulls and the overall sense of whimsy.

Accepted Forms of Payment:

American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Money Order / Cashiers Check, Personal Check, Visa, Wire Transfer


We require prompt payment and removal of your purchases as stated in Paragraph 12 of the Conditions of Sale. If you plan to pick up your purchases, please call ahead and we'll make every effort to have your items ready. Our physical address is 1483 Route 6A, East Dennis, MA. Pick up of smaller items at our Mystic, CT location is also available with advance notice.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide shipping quotes until the invoice had been paid in full.
In house shipping is offered exclusively though UPS. All items are shipped with UPS insurance (max. $50,000). UPS insurance is billed at $2.70 for the first $100 and at $0.90 per hundred afterwards. Eldred's charges a minium $15 handling fee per package plus actual UPS shipping charges.
COLLECTION OF PURCHASES: Delivery or shipping arrangements must be made within seven (7) days from the close of the auction for all purchases. All items must be removed from Eldred's facilities within fourteen (14) days of the end of the auction. All items remaining after fourteen days may be subject to a $15/per item/per day storage fee. No items will be released unless storage fees are paid in full. Items remaining over thirty (30) days from the close of the auction may be sold for the buyer's account minus auction and storage fees.

August 19, 2021 9:30 AM EDT
East Dennis, MA, US


You agree to pay a buyer's premium of up to 25% and any applicable taxes and shipping.

View full terms and conditions

Bid Increments
From: To: Increments:
$0 $49 $5
$50 $99 $10
$100 $499 $25
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $2,999 $100
$3,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $29,999 $1,000
$30,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 $99,999 $5,000
$100,000 + $10,000