Sold to a private collector
Exceptional Rare and Important Pair of Scrimshaw Walrus Tusks
Nathaniel S. Finney, American, circa 1870
Each one signed: "S. F. Engraved by N. S. FINNEY, CAL."
H. (left facing tusk) 28"; (right facing tusk) 28-3/4"
Courtesy of Hyland Granby Antiques
This pair of tusks was engraved by Nathaniel S. Finney, considered by some to be the most technically proficient scrimshander to have plied his art. He is recognized as the first professional scrimshander, taking commissions from clients rather than decorating ivory and bone as gifts or to pass the time on long voyages. It is likely that the portraits at the bases of these tusks were either the individuals who commissioned the tusks or images of the people to whom the tusks were presented. Each tusk is skillfully decorated in polychrome with eight elaborate images of diminishing size.This is only one of a few pair signed by Finney. A pair in the collection of Mystic Seaport, New Bedford, Massachusetts, attributed to Finney and approximately five inches smaller, is considered to be one of the finest examples of scrimshaw in the collection.