Circa 1830-1833


Signed on edge "Engraved. By. Edward Burdett.". Obverse titled "Wm. Tell. of. New York. Cutting. Boiling. And Fast to a Whale." Depicts a whaling scene of the American whaleship William Tell, aboard which Burdett served, and a whaleboat in pursuit of a surfaced whale. Faint "W" in sky above whale. Reverse titled "Friends. Of. New London. Homeward. Bound. Full.". Depicts the whaleship flying a large American flag off the stern, a long red-striped pennant from the mainmast and a "P O[?]" house flag from the foremast. Another whaleship is visible in the distance. The ship Friends is depicted on at least three other Burdett teeth, one that was part of the Kendall Whaling Museum Collection, one in the Mystic Seaport collection and the third presented earlier in this auction. As typical of Burdett's work, a vine wraps around the circumference of the base and the ships' hulls are deeply engraved. The serifed lettering is also the same as on other Burdett examples.

Accompanied by a copy of a July 20, 1998 Scrimshaw Certificate of Authenticity issued by the Kendall Whaling Museum, reference no. 99-01, signed by Stuart M. Frank, Ph.D., Director, certifying the piece as a genuine sperm whale tooth and that the work is that of Edward Burdett. In the certificate's cover letter, Frank describes it as a "prime example of Burdett's later work and it may be the very last piece he ever did". Also includes several clippings and photographs of Burdett teeth.
Length 6.25". Includes stand.
Condition: Tip cracked. Cracking and loss at base. Scattered additional age lines. Restored.

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  • Provenance:
    The Collection of Ian R. MacKenzie.

    We presume this tooth 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.
    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.

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


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