Rare Whale Bone Carving Sells for Ten Times Estimate!
Most days at the auction rooms clients bring in various boxes of objects for appraisal, our job is to sort them through and present the items to auction in a way that brings the best possible price. With over 30 years experience it is not uncommon for us to spot rare and collectable items that may appear to be non-descript to the owner. Earlier this year a gentleman sorting through various antiques and effects from his family home in South Devon brought along a collection of metal, general jewellery, and other objects. Once all the effects were unpacked onto our valuation table, there was one item that caught the eye of our valuer Paul Keen.
Known in the family as simply a marine carving it was clear that the rectangular panel was a rare and original example of a scrimshaw carving. This was popular in the late 18th and 19th century by sailors during the New England whaling days. Many decorative ‘folk art’ objects were created including napkin rings, jewellery, gaming items, and even needle holders and combs.
Over the years, Plymouth Auction Rooms have sold several scrimshaw carvings on whale teeth, however this was particularly rare in that it was carved from the bone of a whale jaw. The primitive picture depicted whaling ships off a coastline which, although had suffered some damage, remained intact and original. Following instructions to sell we arranged extensive online and media promotion, notifying specialist UK and international collectors. On the 2nd February, Lot 239 attracted tremendous interest and with competition from online and telephone bidders, a 5 minute long bid battle ensued resulting in the hammer price of £3,200. You can watch the bid battle here.
Paul Keen was delighted with the sale, “It was a pleasure to see the full journey of this work of art from the day it came in to putting the gavel down at such a great price.”
Should you have any scientific or maritime items, we are always interested to hear about them. Get in touch via Email, or Call 01752 254740.