Sunday, November 23, 2008
Daryle Lambert: When the Tooth Fairy Can Pay Off
My question to you is what do you use your spare time for? That question today could have many answers because we live in a mobile society but what if you were confined to a small space for great lengths of time would it be the same? The boredom could become over whelming if there wasn't something to pass the time with. I know you are asking where is he going with this right?
I am talking about the old Sea Farer's that were called old salts. You see they were at sea for long stretches of time with very little to do besides the jobs that they had signed on for. However many of these Sea Farer's where excellent artist and craftsmen. By being members of the sailing community they had very few materials to practice their skills on besides ivory and whales teeth. The whales teeth and walrus tusk were plentiful around the sea ports and the made excellent material for the skilled craftsmen to show life as it was upon a ship at sea. Often the greatest resource that we have remaining of life at sea are carved on these teeth and tusk.
For the advanced collector there isn't a better find then one of these pieces of history to be added to their collection. The wonderful part about us finding exceptional pieces of Scrimshaw is that it will not only be sought by the collectors but also by the museums. This make for healthy competitions between the collector and museums and this pushes the price for scrimshaw through the roof. Hurray for us the good guys.
You must be warned that there are people making Scrimshaw today and also many fakes made from plastic are in the market. On the plastic Scrimshaw it is easy to test by placing a hot needle to it in a place on the item that will not disfigure it and if it melts then it is plastic. On the other pieces that are new you must be able to tell if they are genuine by the patina and quality of workmanship. By placing these pieces in tea for a long period of time it will give them a darkened color but to the trained eye it is nothing like the true patina that comes from many years of exposure to the air.
The most sought after Scrimshaw will be decorated with ships, whales, birds, emblems from their country of origin, mermaids and sailors. These pieces can become quit expensive with some selling in the tens of thousands of dollars. It is rather common for good pieces of Scrimshaw to bring from $1000 up. In slow markets for other items I believe you will always find a ready market for these items.
My best advice to you when it comes to Scrimshaw is never take anything for as it appears because about the time you think the item that you are holding in your hand is a fake it will prove out to be real and make your day. These teeth are to valuable to put under your pillow for the tooth fairy.
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