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NOVA-Antiques is the Mid Atlantic website for all things antique and collectible. Our website features antique & collectibles dealers, shops & malls; Flea Market Directory & Reviews; Monthly Antiques Show Calendar; Estate & Tag Sales Page; and our NOVA-Antiques Newsletter, which contains news, articles and information about the antiques & collectibles market. NOVA-Antiques Blog is an extension of our Newsletters.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Scrimshaw Sells at Sotheby’s Auction

Scrimshaw is the name of the art that includes the carving of intricate and elaborate pictures on bones, whale teeth and sometimes the tusks of walruses. Mostly done by whalers, the carvings are normally then highlighted by adding pigments. It is believed that this art form had it’s heyday in the early 1800’s and survives today at the hands of a few hobbyists. The carvings are very sought after by collectors and can bring in tens of thousands of dollars. In September of 2005 we carried an article in our NOVA-Antiques Newsletter about carved whale tooth that brought in more than $270,000. This week, Sotheby’s announced the sale of another whales tooth.

This carving was done by William A. Gilpin and was actually signed. According to Sotheby’s this was important because other works belonging to this sailor could now be authenticated. Other examples of his existing works only contained the name of his ship, Ceres and the letter A. On this particular carving, one side of the whale tooth depicts the artist’s ship at sea on rolling waves of water. The other side of the tooth depicts a man in a tie holding his hat aloft and his hair blowing in the wind. The banner reads, “Free Trade and Sailor’s Rights.” Estimated to sell for $40,000 to $60,000, this whales tooth brought in $98,500.

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