Mystery Artist 32 – “B” Whale

Base of scrimshaw - mystery artist 32Looking up and into the center of the tusk/tooth - Mystery Artist 32Close-up of the initial "B" - Mystery Artist 32Severiano from Ohio writes: “I have had this for many years. Do you know who this artist is that signs with the letter “B” ?”

Whale on ivory just under the water

Not sure if this is a tusk tip or a whale tooth, hope to get a picture of the base.  My teacher Eduardo Brum would often sign his work with a single letter B as well, though it doesn’t give us much to go on. Purchased from an antique shop on Galveston Island Texas.

Mystery Artist 31 – W.E.S.

Back of a carved ivory cuff link with the initials WES - Mystery Artist 31

Carvings in ivory and bone are also considered scrimshaw, and these are a perfect example. Mark W. in Florida writes:

“I have attached three photos of a tie clasp and cuff-link set with the signiture W.E.S. or perhaps W.E. Sr..   Would appreciate help is identifying who it is.  Thanks.   Mark W”

These are beautiful pieces, the whale cuff links took patience to carve so small as well as a steady hand to attach them with those tiny screws.  Anyone know a scrimshaw artist with the initials W.E.S. that may have carved these or any information? We’d love to know.  Add your comments to the section below, Mark and I will be happy to know more about them.

Back of a carved ivory cuff link with the initials WES - Mystery Artist 31 The back of the other carved ivory cufflink with the initials W.E.S. Carved Whale Tie Clasp Mystery Artist 31 facing down

Mystery Artist 26 – Whale Tooth: Authentic or Repro? Verdict: “Fakeshaw”

Mystery Artist 26-1 Whale Toothe with crossed pistols

Mystery Artist 26-1 Whale Toothe with crossed pistolsMystery Artist # 26 is a scrimshaw on a whale tooth, either real or a very good reproduction.  From the owner: “Hello, not sure what I have here, as it is somewhat similar to the Turnage Place Mississippi repros. Anyone’s help is much appreciated, thanks Kelvin.”

Mystery Artist 26-2 Whale Tooth with stagecoach

Mystery Artist 26-3 - Bottom edge

Mystery Artist 26-4 - Tip of the tooth

Mystery Artist 26-5 - Base of the tooth

One thing I’ve noticed is the uniformity of the color beneath.  There is also no grain in the bottom, which makes me think that it could be a polymer.  Two quick tests would be looking at it under a “black light”: if it glows, it’s definitely plastic. if not, it could still be a different polymer.  The second test would be the “hot pin test”: heating a needle to red hot and pressing the point into the base to see if it melts or burns, taking note of the smell.  If it smells like plastic, it is.  If it smells like a dentist’s office after a day of drilling, it’s more than likely ivory.

Anyone know the artist or the authenticity of this item?  Let us know in the comments.

Douglass Moody, a longtime scrimshaw collector responded below, reprinting his response here:
“This is a well-documented, mass-produced resin replica of a scrimshawed whale tooth, colloquially known as Fakeshaw. It is NOT a reproduction, because an authentic original never existed.”

Thank you, Douglass!

 

Identifying Ivory

I was set to create a long post about identifying ivory (there are many different types – just ask the tooth fairy) when I found this excellent pdf by CITES.org: http://www.cites.org/sites/default/files/eng/resources/pub/E-Ivory-guide.pdf.

The pdf is in black and white. Here are a couple of full color examples of pre-embargo elephant ivory, mammoth ivory and a “vegetable ivory” cross-cuts showing the Schreger lines in the ivories and the lack of them in the plant alternative (clicking on the image brings it up to full size):

Elephant Ivory Chunk from pre-embargo ivory showing Schreger lines
Elephant Ivory Chunk from pre-embargo ivory showing Schreger lines

 

Mammoth ivory showing Schreger lines
Mammoth ivory showing Schreger linesMammoth ivory

 

Ivory nut whole, halved and quartered
Ivory nut whole, halved and quartered