A carved whale's tooth from HMS Beagle, the ship aboard which the young Charles Darwin made the scientific observations that formed his famous book The Origin of the Species, sold today for $67,340 (with fees) at Bonham's, London.
The 7-inch-long one of a kind tooth was decorated by James Bute, a private in the Royal Marines, who was on HMS Beagle with Darwin while surveying the Galapagos Islands in 1835.
Both sides of the decorated ivory, known as a "scrimshaw", are engraved with signed depictions of the three-masted sloop, a Bonham's spokesman said to Bloomberg.
The unique piece was won by a telephone bidder. The price was a record for a scrimshaw sold in the UK, said Bonhams.
"This is without doubt the most important British scrimshaw to come on the market in my 30-year career," Jon Baddeley, head of Bonhams's collectors' items, said in an e- mailed statement.
This year marks the bicentenary of Darwin's birth and 150 years since the publication of "The Origin of Species."
HMS Beagle left England in June 1831 on an expedition lasting five years.
"The natural history of these islands is eminently curious, and well deserves attention," Darwin said on his visit to the Galapagos in Voyage of the Beagle.
"Most of the organic productions are aboriginal creations, found nowhere else."
Darwin's account of the voyage was published in 1839, 20 years before The Origin of the Species.