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Scrimshaw Sperm-Whale Tooth.

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Anonymous scrimshander. Circa 1840–1860. Kendall Collection. Courtesy of new Bedford Whaling Museum. Photography by M. Zilberstein.The polychrome whaling scene on this 4 1/2-inch tooth was engraved by an anonymous American whaleman in the mid-1800s. Whaling scenes room the most desirable images ~ above scrimshaw teeth. Examples similar to this sell for about $6,500, states dealer Nina Hellman, while a 5-inch tooth v a nice floral decorate would have a value of $800–$1,200.

Hellman notes that in some situations the occupational of a scrimshander (as artist in the tool are called) deserve to be figured out even despite his name is not known. “There space teeth by the ‘Eagle Portraitist’ or the ‘Banknote Engraver’ or the ‘Ceres Artisan’,” she says, explaining the such teeth have actually been selling for as much as $30,000–$50,000.

As job-related by such experts as Stuart M. Frank, manager of the kendall Institute at the brand-new Bedford Whaling Museum, and also his partner Donald E. Ridley continues, more scrimshaw artists are being identified and their functions are enhancing in value. Scrimshaw teeth by Nantucket whaleman Edward Burdett (1805–1833) are a instance in point; one was recently uncovered during one airing the PBS’s Antiques Roadshow, says Frank, “and it was as if a signed Rembrandt had been found.” Frank places the worth of a tooth engraved by Burdett in the same classification as a Susan’s this by Myrick.

Creating a scrimshaw tooth compelled patience and skill and took numerous steps. A typical procedure involved an initial making a pencil or ink illustration on paper, climate laying the illustration on height of the tooth and poking pinholes with it to do an summary on the tooth. Next, a seafarer would carve the drawing into the tooth using a spicy knife, and also finally he would certainly fill the grooves and indentations v black or fancy pigments.

For all the artistry and romance that engraved scrimshaw this represent, castle weren’t a prized collector’s items until reasonably recently. Dealers and scholars credit john F. Kennedy’s love that scrimshaw together the catalyst the sparked interest in widespread collecting. Because that today’s buyer, there are many books on the subject and also a visit to the scrimshaw collections at any of the following five museums is enlightening: new Bedford Whaling Museum (includes the kendal Collection), new Bedford, Massachusetts; Nantucket historical Association, Nantucket, Massachusetts; Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts; Mystic Seaport, Mystic, Connecticut; and South Street Seaport, new York. The kendall Institute is hosting its yearly Scrimshaw Collectors’ Weekend June 28–30. For more information, visit www.whalingmuseum.org.

Suggested Reading:

Flayderman, E. Norman. Scrimshaw and also Scrimshanders, Whales and Whalemen. New Milford, Conn.: N. Flayderman & Co., Inc., 1972.Frank, Stuart M. Dictionary of Scrimshaw Artists. Mystic, Conn.: Mystic Seaport Museum, 1991.____________ More Scrimshaw Artists. Mystic, Conn.: Mystic Seaport Museum, 1998.Hellman, Nina, and also Norman Brouwer. A Mariner’s Fancy: The Whaleman’s arts of Scrimshaw. Brand-new York: southern Street Seaport and Balsam Press, 1992.

Jill Connorsis a freelance writer who specializes in collecting, internal design, and also decorative arts. She freelance work shows up in such magazines asCountry Home,Interior Design, andThis Old House.

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