Highly Desirable Scrimshaw tooth by the Banknote Portraitist
2730 This outstanding scrimshaw tooth is positively attributed to the Banknote Portraitist. The style of engraving, the delicate borders encircling the base of the tooth and the festoons around the tip exhibit all the characteristics of the exquisite delicate work of this highly desirable artist.
Engraved on one side of this recently discovered tooth is the War of 1812 engagement between Constitution and Guerriere. The image is taken from Bowen, Abel. The Naval Monument. Boston, 1816. Flags flying on both vessels are highlighted in red pigment. A 3/4 length portrait of a mother and daughter within a vine-decorated cartouche is on the other side of the tooth. There is an age crack from the base of the tooth through the motherís shoulder and a small chip at one end of the base. Wonderful patina. 5 1/4 in. long.
While fine examples of work by this hand are found in many public and private collections, this new-to the- market specimen is an exceptional treasure that would be a star in any collection.
For a thorough discussion of the artist see: Frank, Stuart M. Dictionary of Scrimshaw Artists. Mystic, Conn. Mystic Seaport, 1991, p. 155. A virtually identical rendering of the depicted naval engagement is seen on another tooth by this artist at the South Street Seaport Museum in New York and is Illustrated in Hellman, Nina and Norman Brouwer. A Marinerís Fancy: The Whalemenís Art of Scrimshaw. New York: South Street Seaport and Balsam Press and Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1992, p. 41.