10-26-2014 10-26-2014
Skinner Auctions
Skinner Auctions Boston MA
2757B Boston
October 26, 2014 10:00AMCalender

Scrimshaw Whale's Tooth Showing the Frances

Auction: American Furniture & Decorative Arts - 2757B Location: Boston Date / Time: October 26, 2014 10:00AM


Scrimshaw Whale's Tooth Showing the Frances of New Bedford, Frederick Myrick, Nantucket, c. 1828-29, one side carved with banner reading "The Frances on the Coast of Peru," above the whaleship with crew hoisting the blanket piece aboard and three whaleboats at the bow, and motto "Death to the living, long life to the killers,/Success to the sailors' wives & greasy luck to whalers" below, the other side carved with banner reading "The Frances on her homeward bound passage," with lighthouse off the port bow, and inscription "Ship Frances of New Bedford" below, the tip carved on one side with crossed American flags, the other with an anchor above the signature "Eng. by Fredk Myrick," and eagle clutching arrows and an olive branch, below a vine and star border and banner inscribed "E Pluribus Unum," (small chip to tip), ht. 6 1/2 in.

Literature: This tooth, one of two known showing the whaleship Frances, is illustrated and discussed in Frederick Myrick of Nantucket Scrimshaw Catalogue Raisonne, compiled by Donald E. Ridley, P.E., and edited by Stuart M. Frank, Ph.D., (Kendall Whaling Museum, Sharon, Massachusetts, 2000), as tooth #30 F-1, p. 31.

Provenance: reportedly traded to the owner's grandfather in the late 19th century by a hobo in a exchange for a meal. To the owner's mother in 1925. To the consignor about 1974.

Note: In a biographical note that appears in the Catalogue Raisonne, Stuart Frank writes that Frederick Myrick is "undoubtedly the most famous scrimshaw artist...[and his] work will likely always remain a cornerstone of any scrimshaw collection." Myrick's work, according to Frank in Ingenious Contrivances, Curiously Carved: Scrimshaw in the New Bedford Whaling Museum, David R.Godine, Boston, 2012, is collectively known as "Susan's Teeth. Today, connoisseurs regard Susan's Teeth as the benchmarks of any collection." (p. 22). Myrick is known to have produced approximately 35 teeth, most of which do indeed show the whaleship Susan, on which he spent three years during a voyage to the Pacific. His teeth, according to Frank are "each engraved on both sides, each with two proficient portraits of the same ship, whether whaling, cutting in, or homeward bound, and each with spread eagles, anchors, flags, and mottos. They are very much alike; and yet each one is unique, with the same components used over and over again, but differently deployed in each case, in conformity with the the contour of each of the individual teeth." (p. 22).
Estimate $150,000-250,000

The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Condition requests can be obtained via email (lot inquiry button) or by telephone to the appropriate gallery location (Boston/617.350.5400 or Marlborough/508.970.3000). Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner Inc. shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.


Frederick Myrick, Stuart M. Frank, Donald E. Ridley, Massachusetts, Sharon, Kendall Whaling Museum, scrimshaw artist, David R.Godine