Scrimshaw value

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Perhaps you have glimpsed a scrimshawed whale's tooth in an antique store, flea market or garage sale, or inherited one from your grandfather. Could it be worth that much? Quick test There are three basic steps for determining the value of scrimshaw: 1 Is it ivory or a plastic reproduction? The first step can be accomplished easily. Heat a needle or pin held by pliers red hot and attempt to insert it in an inconspicuous place in the specimen.

If it melts, it is a plastic reproduction. Real ivory is extremely dense and a poor conductor of heat; the worst result will be a very small black dot. The second question is not so easily answered. Under 30X magnification, observe how the engraved lines cut across vertical age cracks. If the engraved line is deeper than the natural crack, the work is of recent origin.

The third question is the most difficult. A provenance history associated with it could be most helpful. Note that "it was given to my grandfather by an old sailor" is meaningless in this context. If your scrimshaw passes the first two tests, it is time to present it to a qualified appraiser for further evaluation contact a maritime museum for referrals.

The work of each known early artist is unique; experts can frequently identify the identity of the scrimshander. For more details, read the rest of this article. Several scrimshaw experts examined this tooth and believe that the work, while old and very fine, may not date as far back as the whaling era.

scrimshaw value

Background What is scrimshaw? Although the word has had many meanings through the years, today it is generally used to describe hand-carved objects made of or scenes engraved on whalebone, whale teeth or walrus tusks.

scrimshaw value

It is also applied to any sailor-made item such as dippers made from coconut shells, corset busks stiffeners made of baleen, etc. Carving on bone has been with us since the stone age, but the art flourished during the 18th century, particularly as a result of American whaling voyages lasting three years or more.

In the 19th century the art started to decline aboard ship, but was continued ashore by retired mariners using more highly refined techniques. In the United States banned the entry of whale products in an attempt to save the endangered species, but contemporary scrimshaw is still being produced by artists.

'Antiques Roadshow:' See a whale tooth worth more than $150K

Their work is often displayed in museums, where it stands on its own artistic merit. These pieces are often scrimmed on fossil ivory. History Although many objects were scrimmed aboard the whaling ship, a decorated whale's tooth is one of the most attractive examples, and is also widely reproduced today.Instructions for sending photographs of your pieces with your question.

Who had amassed the biggest fortune in the 19th century? A comprehensive price and identification guide to railroadiana. For generations, railroads were America? They left behind a tremendous volume of memorabilia that found its way into the marketplace. The book contains thousands of listings in over 30 categories, including railroad china and glassware, silver, lanterns, ephemera, and advertising. The Men Who Built America. This documentary series showcases the accomplishments of Andrew Carnegie, John D.

Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt and others who helped build American industry. Fill in our form. Scrimshaw is still the most popular piece of whaling history to collect. Scrimshaw is scrollwork, engravings, and carvings done in bone or ivory. Typically it refers to the artwork created by whalers, engraved on the byproducts of whales, such as bones or cartilage.

It takes the form of elaborate engravings in the form of pictures and lettering on the surface of the bone or tooth, with the engraving highlighted using a pigment, or, less often, small sculptures made from the same material.

However the latter really fall into the categories of ivory carving, for all carved teeth and tusks, or bone carving. The making of scrimshaw began on whaling ships between and on the Pacific Ocean, and survived until the ban on commercial whaling.

Whale teeth and bones were a highly variable medium, used to produce both practical pieces, such as hand tools, toys and kitchen utensils, and highly decorative pieces, which were purely ornamental. The designs on the pieces varied greatly as well, though they often had whaling scenes on them.

For example, Herman Melville, in Moby-Dick, refers to "lively sketches of whales and whaling-scenes, graven by the fishermen themselves on Sperm Whale-teeth, or ladies' busks wrought out of the Right Whale-bone, and other skrimshander articles". Real vs. Fake Scrimshaw It can be difficult to tell an original piece of scrimshaw from a forgery.

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The easiest way to tell definitively whether a piece is real ivory is by using the "hot pin test," in which a pin is heated to nearly red hot and then its tip is touched to an inconspicuous part of the object. Also, since ivory is a natural tooth substance that continues to grow throughout an animal's life, it has noticeable "growth lines" much like a tree's growth rings.

Artificial ivories do not have this kind of structure and are usually a consistent color throughout. Another way to tell real ivory scrimshaw from artificial alternatives is by examining it under a blacklight. The appearance of genuine scrimshaw will be florescent bright white under the light. Even if a scrimshaw piece is ivory, how can a collector determine its age?

Madden noted that when whalemen harvested ivory or bone the surface was relatively soft and easier to engrave. When it dried out, it becomes very hard. By taking a strong magnifying glass and checking the natural wear areas, a collector will find numerous fine scratches.

If the piece is newly incised, a collector will notice the lines often are often fractured where they cross. This a sure sign of recent work. Also, the ink and paints in the cracks of the engraved lines in antique pieces should appear dried out and "crackily.

Deciding if the ivory or bone is old takes a more experienced eye. Upon examination of the inside of a tooth, a collector should find natural aging--dirt, spotted stains and a natural aged look.

Pieces that have been artificially aged by staining show a even dark look. The most famous scrimshander was Frederick Myrick of Nantucket, who produced 35 or more so-called "Susan's Teeth" aboard the Nantucket ship Susan during As a common seaman in the Nantucket ship Susan from toMyrick incised more than a dozen teeth with portraits of the Susan and at least three with portraits of other vessels. Wives and children, who sometimes accompanied whaling captains to sea, also produced scrimshaw in significant numbers.I have decided to share what I have compiled.

This is by no means a complete list but will continue to grow over time. Hope it helps. Linkbacks to this page are okay. The following images and information are from secondary and public sources.

They are images taken from actual pieces of art for identification purposes only. Known Marks and Signatures. David Adams Jefferson Ave. Early work may only have letter "A.

Francesco Amatori Italy Key Traits: Usually signs full last name but often no maker mark on artist's mother of pearl work. Artek is a privately held corporation serving the museum and up-scale gift trade. Sidney Winton founded Artek in the late 70's with his "Save the Whales" collection of hand-crafted scrimshaw reproductions.

Many of the designs from that first "faux ivory" collection were so successful they are still in the Artek line. Artek products can be found in any number of museum shops, from the Museum of Fine Arts to the John F. Kennedy Library. Mary W. Did some work for President John F. Also, but rarely, signed with both first and last name.

It is confirmed that he changed the style of the "F" in his first name at some point in his career. Frank had sons Frank Jr. Barcelos is spelled differently even among the same family…. Sometimes one L and sometimes two. Park City, UT Email: mgblakepc yahoo. Jim Clay Email: haruf earthlink. Marvin M.

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Michael Cohen Main St. Charles W. Portland, MI Website: Email: macook hughes. Mary Davidson N Shorewood Dr. The original Dias was a true artist, and his signed scrimwork demanded higher prices in the island among American yachters wanting souvenirs of their cruises to the Azores.

Eventually, nearly all scrimshanders on the island starting signing Dias, in hopes of increased sale prices. Deb Donnelly Church St. Jim Downing P. Daniel Farrell Sierra Vista. Gary Fiedler P.When scrimshaw is mentioned, almost all non-scrimshaw collectors and dealers think of carving on sperm whale teeth only. But scrimshaw also includes engravings on skeletal whale bone—such as the jaw bone, called panbone—and ivory from other marine mammals such as walrus.

Although scrimshaw is widely associated with nautical themes and designs of the 19th century whaling industry, vintage scrimshaw was also produced as tribal art in many cultures.

Today, scrimshaw is recognized as a unique medium in which present-day artists have developed their own modern themes. Scrimshaw reproductions may take several forms. There are new carvings on genuine ivory or bone with the deliberate intent to create an "antique;" new carvings on genuine ivory or bone sold as signed and dated contemporary art, clearly marked synthetic museum reproductions and mass marketed, unmarked synthetic replicas.

Painstakingly carved deliberate fakes are directed towards the scrimshaw collector and seldom appear in the general market. Pieces of contemporary art and museum copies are usually clearly marked and openly sold for what they are. The biggest problem in the general antiques market are the mass produced synthetic pieces and are the focus of this article.

The great majority of synthetic scrimshaw reproductions are made of manufactured polymer resins, or plastic. Virtually all plastic will absorb long ultraviolet UV light and appear a dull matte blue under black light or appear the same color under black light as it appears under white room lighting. This is regardless of the surface color of the plastic. Natural bone and ivory appear white to yellowish-white under long wave black light regardless of their surface color in white light.

Do not use heated pins, open flame, apply acetone, or scratch the surface of the test object. Not only are such tests largely ineffective, they are destructive and potentially harmful—some plastics emit toxic fumes when heated or exposed to acetone. Carvers in China now using bones of domesticated water buffaloes to imitate ivory objects. Subjects on the new carvings include 19th century whaling and nautical themes Figs.

These new pieces will fluoresce white or yellowish-white like ivory under long wave black light. All such pieces should be viewed with extreme suspicion. You can separate bone from ivory by examining the surface.

All true ivory comes from a tooth—a tusk is simply a large tooth. The part of ivory that is carved is composed primarily of dentine, a nearly perfectly solid mass.

By contrast, cavities in bone through which fluids pass, the Halversian System, are easily visible with the unaided eye or a loupe. They form a typical pattern of dark pits and grooves Figs. But be careful. The better-made synthetic fakes now include the pits and grooves of natural bone in the molds of synthetic copies Figs.

Remember, guidelines in this article are detecting the mass produced plastic scrimshaw fakes, not individually crafted forgeries on old bone or ivory. In recent years, the latest generation plastic copies have become somewhat closer in general appearance to 19th century originals.

Plastic sperm whale tooth. Whaling scene with ships. Center for marbles, cribbage holes around border. Border also inscribed with months.Jason Hogue has been writing professionally since He served as a ghostwriter for the governor of Missouri and, later, for the Missouri Department of Social Services. He teaches public speaking classes at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, where he earned a Master of Arts in liberal studies.

Men have carved or engraved bone, teeth and ivory since ancient times. Scrimshaw, however, usually refers to the American art of carving or engraving whale teeth or bones.

Modern scrimshanders those that carve or engrave scrimshaw have necessarily expanded to include horn, ancient ivory and even plastics. Consequently, determining the value of scrimshaw or other carved items can be difficult. Examine the piece with a magnifying glass. Plastic items will be smooth. Natural materials such as ivory and horn have a grain. Consider the color and condition of the piece.

Ivory turns yellow with age. Additionally, uncared-for ivory may develop cracks and other defects due to age. Write out the item's history as you understand it. The age and origin of the piece will aid your later comparisons. List the defining features of the piece such as its size, shape, any remaining natural features and the subjects of the carving or engraving. Whaling scenes are the most commonly collected, but other nautical, home and patriotic scenes are also valuable.

Examine any signatures, artist marks or dates. Not all scrimshaw have these additions, but the most valuable pieces are engraved with one or all. These marks will also aid identification of the piece. Search public auction web sites for like pieces. This is the easiest way to gather additional information about your pieces.Scrimshaw is among the oldest known art forms in North America.

Practiced by the Native Americans as Native American art and taught to seafarers and sailors the world over, scrimshaw became popular in New England. New England whalers popularized the craft of scrimshaw during the 17th to the 19th Centuries.

Whale bone, which was used for the construction of needles, harpoons, fishing bobbles, tools and utensils, was decorated with scrimshaw.

Scrimshaw featured etched imagery highlighted with darkly inked areas. This early scrimshaw process was not unlike the beginning stages of working in the intaglio print process.

Scrimshaw is also found as the decoration of choice on thread spools, sewing kits, sewing stands, baskets including Native American basketsbaby rattles, sailor's valentines and other objects of adornment in the s and s. Scrimshaw also was used to decorate boxes for pearlsgemstonesjewelry, etc.

Scrimshaw was also found on hand made snuff boxes and snuff bottles. Scrimshaw objects were often marked, signed and dated. They were commonly decorated with images of ships, flags, whales, portraits of crew members and the like.

Antique Scrimshaw and Whaling Items

Today, scrimshaw is a prominent feature on baskets including the famous Nantucket baskets, purses, pendants, earrings, and pins. The history of scrimshaw goes hand in hand with the need for whale oil and the whaling industry. Sailors learned how to carve and otherwise decorate ivory, whale bone, walrus bone and tusks which sparked a trend for these decorative objects featuring the dark etched or incised design known as scrimshaw. Oil lamps were mainstays in the s and scrimshaw was an artistic craft product of that industry.

As electricity and other energy sources replaced whale oil for lighting, decorative whaling crafts like scrimshaw grew rare. The small whaling crews who made scrimshaw in their spare time on New England ships were soon replaced by large crews working on steam powered ships. Similarly, the need for scrimshaw-decorated powder horns was deemed unnecessary by the late s when various firing cartridges replaced the need for gun powder and powder horns featuring scrimshaw decoration.

When selecting a piece of scrimshaw or an antique featuring scrimshaw decoration, consider the scrimshaw image carefully. Using a magnifying glass, look at the scrimshaw design and seek out a good, sharp contrast between the dark ink and the ivory or whale bone.

Look for a dark colored scrimshaw design against a bright white or off-white piece of whale bone, ivory, tusk, or baleen. The image should be realistic in its representation of a figure, person, or animal. Subjects which relate to the whaling industry are typically the most highly sought after when it comes to collectible scrimshaw. Some popular and desirable scrimshaw imagery is: historic ships on the high seas, marine seascapes, whales, large ocean animals, shells, portraits of a fleet's captain or a crew member, etc.

The evidence of non-maritime or non-marine subject matter will help you date your piece of antique or vintage scrimshaw as alternative subjects such as these are typical of the 20th Century rather than common to the 18th or 19th Centuries.

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Look for pieces of scrimshaw in good condition with highly detailed carving showing master craftsmanship. Stray scratches, inclusions, or improper markings and condition issues will devalue a piece of scrimshaw. Get an online appraisal of your scrimshaw from Dr. Want to know how to spot that valuable thrift store find? Don't know what to look for when cleaning out Grandma's attic or when you are downsizing? It's a common question and Dr.Bath Antiques Online.

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scrimshaw value

Update Alerts. Wish List. Join as a Seller. Contact Us. Site Map. About Us. More Info 5 Bids. More Info 4 Bids. More Info 3 Bids. More Info 1 Bids. A 19th century Scrimshaw tusk, incised with a young girl, wearing a bonnet, and picked out in black and red, A whales tooth with Scrimshaw ed decoration of a 3 masted ship in full sail, within geometric borders, some damage.

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Pair of Victorian scrimshaw sperm whale teeth, mid 19th Century, naively decorated, one with a sailor offering a toast above crossed laurel leaves, the other with a lady offering her hand in acceptance, 5. A Scrimshaw pewter mounted coconut powder flask, naively carved in the form of a seal, engraved with depictions of, Britannia with a ship, a harp with figure head terminal, and the Regimental badge of the Royal Artillery with compass and square, and figures of birds, early 19th century, 6in overall.

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For insurance purposes, insuring a high-value item or collection, we recommend a first-hand appraisal and renewed valuation every years. Price: Military Hospital Interior by F. Faux Scrimshaw Carved Parrot Keychain Vintage Faux Scrimshaw Walrus Tusk Terragrafics Scrimshaw Picture Frame 4. Back to top. Selling and valuing online since


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