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Burdett scrimshaw whale tooth may top $200K

Eldred's will bring to auction July 20 a scrimshaw whale's tooth dating to the early 19th century, made and America's first master scrimshaw artist, Edward Burdett.

EAST DENNIS, Mass. – Nearly 500 lots of maritime art will cross the auction block July 20 at Eldred’s Marine Sale, highlighted by the third and final session of the Thomas Mittler Scrimshaw Collection, as well as an important Montague Dawson seafaring scene and a scrimshaw whale’s tooth by Edward Burdett. The Marine Sale will begin at 10 a.m. EST on Thursday, July 20, 2017 at Eldred’s, 1483 Route 6A, East Dennis, Massachusetts. Invaluable will facilitate online bidding. .

Scrimshaw Leads the Way in Nautical Offerings

“The breadth and scope of material, from paintings to scrimshaw to other nautical antiques, is exceptional, and there is truly something for everyone, from the novice collector to the seasoned connoisseur,” said Joshua Eldred, president of the company.

Burdett scrimshaw tooth

Scrimshaw whale’s tooth by Edward Burdett, $160,000-$210,000. (All photos courtesy Eldred’s)

The first lot of the sale is the Edward Burdett tooth. It is considered amongst many in the collecting community as the scrimshander’s masterpiece. The extraordinarily detailed tooth, from a private American collection, is inscribed “Engraved by Edward Burdett of Nantucket Onboard the Ship William Tell.” It depicts a whaling scene of the William Tell and the George and Susan on the obverse. It features a coastal view of the whaleship William Thomson on the reverse. From the inscription, the tooth was created while Burdett was onboard the ship William Tell. The ship left New York in November 1829 and returned to port in February 1833. Based on shipping records, it is likely the William Tell encountered the William Thomson and the George and Susan while in the Pacific whaling grounds, This occurred between October 1830 and February 1833.

Edward Burdett was a pioneer of American scrimshaw, and in his short but prolific career he produced what are widely considered masterpieces of the genre. He was born on Nantucket in October 1805, the son of a merchant sea captain. His first whaling voyage was aboard the Foster from 1822 to 1842. In successive voyages he sailed aboard the William Tell and the Montano. In November 1833, while serving as first mate onboard the Montano, Burdett was entangled in line, dragged by a whale overboard, and drowned.

Burdett Tooth May Top $200K

“This is certainly one of the best pieces of scrimshaw to come on the market in years,” said Bill

Nantucket basket

Double-lollipop Nantucket basket, $40,000-$60,000.

Bourne, company vice president and head of the Maritime Art Department at Eldred’s. “The quality of work, its condition and its size are all exceptional. We expect it to be very well received and should, with the Mittler Collection, provide an exciting start to the day.” The Burdett tooth carries a presale estimate of $160,000 to $210,000. Seventy-four lots from the Thomas Mittler Scrimshaw Collection will follow.

The third and final session of the Mittler Collection includes a “Susan’s Tooth” by Frederick Myrick, as well as teeth by the Britannia Engraver, W.L. Roderick, the Arch Engraver and the Pagoda Artisan. The sale will also include whaleman-made utilitarian items like crimpers, watchtowers and blocks. Presale estimates on items in the collection range from $300-$500 to $100,000-$150,000.

Maritime Art, Instruments, Memorabilia 

The Marine Sale will also include a wide array of maritime-themed fine art. In addition, ship models and navigational instruments will be on offer. Also yachting memorabilia and sailor-made handicrafts, among others, will be present. Notable lots include an extensively illustrated and highly detailed journal covering four whaling voyages from 1847 to 1850. Nathan Young of Provincetown, Massachusetts, is the author of the journal, carrying an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. Another possible highlight is a rare double-lollipop Nantucket basket. Its estimate is $40,000 to $60,000. A Napoleonic Prisoner of War bone model of an 86-gun warship on a two-tier base is offered. It has an estimate of $35,000 to $50,000. .

All auction lots can be viewed online at Interested bidders can visit or call 508-385-3116 or email options include phone, absentee or online. Those wishing to bid live in the audience may register at the offices the day of the auction.

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