A $50k carved whale's tooth

Christie’s is holding an Americana week starting January 21. This includes a day for Important American Folk Art, Furniture, and Decorative Arts (January 22).

One of the great highlights of that sale is a highly decorated scrimshaw whale tooth which conveys both the adventure and loneliness of life aboard a 19th century whaling ship, the Superior from New York.

As noted by engravings on the tooth, the scrimshander was a crewmember aboard the Superior.

Among the finely-detailed drawings on the tooth are the Superior with her three masts, an American eagle and banner inscribed with the word Liberty, and a design of intertwined hearts and roses with the dedication: Amelia/ What are the riches of the world without thee/ When this you see, think of me”.

At the base of the tooth, an image of a massive whale’s tail upending a boat full of men (reminiscent of Moby Dick) is flanked by the mottoes “In God We Trust” and “Bold Yankee Whalemen”.

Superior Scrimshaw
Whale's tooth (both sides)


The attribution to the whaleship Superior is significant; in 1848, it was the first American ship to venture into the Bering Strait to hunt bowhead whales, effectively opening a new chapter in whaling that brought over 250 hunting ships to the area within three years.

In September a whale’s tooth carved on the Beagle, aboard which Darwin was transported to the Galapagos where he conceived of the idea of evolution by natural selection, sold for $67,340.



Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock