1865 N. S. Finney Walrus Tusks
Appraised Value: $30,000 - $60,000
IMAGE: 1 of 3
Appraisal Video: (2:19)
Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Silver
Owner, Appraiser and Chief Auctioneer
GUEST: They come through my mother's side of the family. This is Captain Martin, his wife, his son, and these small motifs are for their interests.
APPRAISER: Now, where did they live?
GUEST: He had a ship out of New Bedford, Massachusetts.
APPRAISER: Was it a whaling ship?
GUEST: I don't know.
APPRAISER: Well, New Bedford was the whaling center of America.
GUEST: Yes, uh-huh.
APPRAISER: So we presume that that is how he acquired them, on one of his whaling voyages. As you probably know, these are not whale's teeth, they are walrus tusks, and came from the Pacific Ocean. Do you know anything more about them?
GUEST: Until two days ago, I didn't know anything about the engraver. And they are signed on the back by N.S. Finney. And we found out that he worked in San Francisco from 1860 to 1880 and he was listed in a museum piece as a premier scrimshaw artist.
APPRAISER: He is one of the finest scrimshaw artists known. He only worked with walrus tusks.
GUEST: Oh, really?
APPRAISER: And this period, from 1860 to 1880, is fairly late for this type of work. Over here, there's the racehorse, and what do we have here? We have cows, sheep, that sort of thing. Musical instruments, for your… did you say great-grandmother?
GUEST: Yes, it's about five generations back.
APPRAISER: And beautiful border engraving here, the foliate scrolls. And then, on the back, they are signed.
GUEST: Yes, both of them are signed.
APPRAISER: The signature or the engraving is identical. So you have a wonderful pair of tusks here. Have you ever had them appraised?
GUEST: 30 years ago, an appraiser told me $3,000 to $5,000 for the pair. It's been a long time, I don't know.
APPRAISER: Well, what would you think if I told you they were worth ten times that?
GUEST: Ten times that?
APPRAISER: Ten times that, yes.
GUEST: Oh, my.
APPRAISER: They are easily worth $30,000 and at auction they could bring $50,000 or $60,000.
GUEST: Oh, my.
APPRAISER: They are truly spectacular.
GUEST: I love them, I know that. Oh, that's wonderful.
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