Scrimshaw, or carved bone and ivory, is very collectable, but the signature and scenes on this 7in (18cm) long whale’s tooth put it in a special league.
The carving is signed by James Bute, who is
documented as one of the mariners on HMS Beagle, the survey ship
made famous for the ground-breaking scientific work carried out by
Charles Darwin in the Galapagos as part of its 1834 voyage.
Bute carved and signed two scenes of the Beagle, one
showing her in rough seas titled Working HM Sloop Beagle up the
River Santa Cruz, the other, shown here, HM Sloop Beagle laid on
shore to repair her forefoot, an incident that Darwin recorded in
his Beagle diary on April 16, 1834.
The scrimshaw was brought to Bonhams' specialist John
Baddeley when he was lecturing in the West Country and the fact
that it can be tied so closely to the Beagle adds to its importance
and value. It is estimated to fetch £30,000-50,000 in what will be
Bonhams' first ever sale devoted to Travel and Exploration to be
held at Bond Street on September 16.
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