The Coonatto was built in 1863 by Thomas Bilbe & Co. at the Nelson Dock at Rotherhithe but came to a nasty end in 1876 when it was wrecked off the coast at Beachy Head. It was constructed of wood planking over an iron frame and the remains of the iron hull can still be seen on the beach at low tide.
The 6ft (1.83m) figurehead was salvaged from the wreck and until 1950 stood in the gardens of the East Dean Manor House near Seaford, East Sussex (a 1908 photograph shows it in situ).
It then moved across the Atlantic, sold to Samuel Lowe Jr. Antiques of Boston, before entering the Headley collection of ship's figureheads in California.
In 2008, the figurehead was offered at Rafael Osona Auctions, Nantucket, and the purchaser there consigned it to Northeast Auctions' annual Marine, China Trade & Sporting Auction in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on August 20-21.
Here, she was estimated at $15,000-20,000, but sold at $38,000 (£24,400) to an Australian buyer.
An 18/10 per cent buyer's premium was charged.