A Whale's Tooth Steeped in Historical Significance

  • July 28, 2009 14:07

  • Email
A whale's tooth from Darwin's historic round-the-world journey heads to auction

Sailing to auction this fall is a 7-inch-long whale’s tooth decorated by private James Bute of the Royal Marines while aboard the ship from which Charles Darwin surveyed the Galapagos Islands in 1835.

Darwin made significant scientific observations from the H.M.S Beagle which formed the basis of his seminal work, “The Origin of Species.”

The hand-engraved ivory depicts the three-masted sloop H.M.S. Beagle slicing through rough waters against a mountain backdrop. With a high estimate of 50,000 pounds, the carved tooth will be auctioned by Bonhams in London on Sept. 16.

Known as scrimshaw, this sailor-made art form was created during idle moments at sea or port.

In Darwin's account "Voyage of the Beagle," the budding scientist wrote that the five-year, round-the-world Beagle trip was "by far the most important event in my life." Specimens culled from the Galapagos Islands, off Ecuador, came to shape his theory of evolution.

In an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg, Jon Baddeley, head of Bonham’s collectors’ items, wrote, “This is without doubt the most important British scrimshaw to come on the market in my 30-year career."

The year 2009 is the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth and marks 150 years since the publication of ‘The Origin of Species.’


  • Email

Art & Antiques Notes

Art world news, exhibition reviews, and notes on collecting.

More Posts from Art & Antiques Notes

After the Jesusita Fire in Santa Barbara, May 8

Got Art? Insurer Fights Fires to Help Protect Customers’ Property

  • May 10th, 2009 18:19

The Chubb Insurance Group, a leading insurer of homeowners and personal art collections worldwide, announced in a ...

 Smoke Decorated Box With Fitted Interior American, Ca.  Early 19th Century Pine with dovetailed construction and original smoke decoration.  Decorated interior fitted with a case of 5 drawers.  Ex.  Margaret Canavan.

Collect Art, Not Ashes

  • May 12th, 2009 13:40

After a foggy morning dawned on Mother's Day, Santa Barbara's Jesusita fire is now 70 percent contained. From May 5 ...

Chris Jordan, Cans Seurat

Shock 'n' Awe: Chris Jordan's Green Theme Mega-Art

  • May 20th, 2009 20:57

Chris Jordan was a lawyer, but don't hold that against him. He reinvented himself as an artist with a social ...

Pair of South Jersey pitchers and witch balls, ca.  1850, sold for $28,080.

Happy Again: Americana Market Comeback at Pook & Pook

  • June 23rd, 2009 12:19

The Father's Day weekend auction at Downington, Pennsylvania-based Pook & Pook Inc. gave the Americana market a ...


ARTFIXdaily Artwire