A Sailors Work of Art to Georgian Mourning Jewellery
It’s only just over a week into the New Year, and we have already had a host of antiques, jewellery and collectables to present at auction over the next few weeks.
While sorting through a collection of silver and effects brought along to the Saleroom by a family in the South Hams, Auctioneer Paul Keen was quick to pick out a primitive pictorial carving. He was delighted to handle a good and rare example of scrimshaw (Lot 293 – 2nd February). The rectangular panel or whale pan/jaw bone, measuring 17cm x 40cm, is scratched out with a scene of a whaling ship and other boats in choppy seas off a coastline. The scene is within a border decorated with marine emblems of swords, anchors and love hearts.
Scrimshaw, the art of carving whale bone, was developed by sailors over 200 years ago during the New England whaling days, it became a popular pastime amongst bored sailors. Many decorative ‘folk art’ objects were created including napkin rings, jewellery, gaming items, and even needle holders and combs.
Paul says “Over the years I have come across several scrimshaw whale teeth, but this is the first panel carving I have seen. It’s remarkable that it has survived all these years, and I am excepting a lot of interest”.
From the same collection was a box of antique jewellery containing a glass heart shaped locket. At first glance it appeared to be typical of the many lockets that turn up at the Saleroom. However on closer inspection by Valuer Tracey Still, she was excited to see the black and gilt enamelled edging, with an inscription reading ‘E. Hammond, OB, 20 May, 2748, AE: 73’. Now clearly a rare piece of Georgian mourning jewellery it has much more significance. Mourning jewellery was popular in the 18th century and was brought to commemorate an individual who has died, to be worn in their memory. By keeping a lock one had an everlasting connection to their loved one who had past.
Tracey says “Mourning jewellery is often found in rings, so it is really special to discover a locket of plated hair from over 250 years ago. We would love to have known the history about the person”. The locket is also further enhanced with an old cut diamond.
These two lots will be up for auction in the February sales amongst many other treasures, you can find out more by visiting the catalogues here or call us on 01752 254740.