Friday - 25 July 2014

How the Beagle left its own ‘fossilised’ remains…

10 August 2009Written by ATG Reporter

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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