Image Lot Price Description



Circa 1870, San Francisco. This incredible pair of tusks measuring 27-1/4″ each depict vignettes of well known actors who worked in San Francisco during the 1860’s-1870’s, mostly founding members of the California Troup of Actors associated with the California Theatre. Attached online is PDF with more information, biographies and stagebills. Obverses of each tusk have precisely executed portraits of William Burroughs (1840-1898), Ms. Charlotte Thompson, William Ayers Mestayer (1844-1896), Miss M.E. Gordon, James Edward McCullough, E.J. Buckley (who is father of Ms. Annie Buckley, a well-known New York City stage actress), Minnie Walton (1852-1879) who made her San Francisco acting debut in 1868, John T. Raymond (1836-1887), Emelie Melville (1851-1932), Lawrence Barrett (1838-1891). Also on obverses are found four vignettes of musical instruments and stage props, like a panoply of arms for the military, these represent the stage performing community. The reverses of each tusk has unnamed vignettes of four gentlemen, one appears to be William Ralson (1826-1875) who built the California Theatre in 1869 but is best known as founder of the Bank of California two on each tusk along with four patriotic motifs of eagles, one with motto “In Union is Strength” on ribbon in beak above a pair of clasped hands. Another unusual patriotic vignette shows a pair of clasped hands above the Constitution, a furled flag, fasces, & a cloud of stars. Each tusk is signed “Engd. by N.S. Finney”.
Nathan Sylvester Finney was a master engraver. He was born in 1813 in Plymouth, MA. The earliest work attributed to him is a magnificent pair of carved whale’s teeth at the Mystic Seaport Museum depicting American victories during the War of 1812 at Lake Champlain and Lake Erie, carved prior to 1851. In 1858 the San Francisco Republican Standard noted the raffle of a 50 lb 3-1/2′ piece of whalebone carved with the likenesses of Revolutionary War figures Jefferson, Morris, Lee, Jay, Henry, J. Adams, Hancock, Rutledge, Otis, S. Adams & Franklin along with the equestrian statue of Washington in Richmond, VA. Of course this carved whalebone has never been seen since but this shows Finney was in San Francisco as early as 1858. Other signed Finney tusks are well known with patriotic motifs, such as the reverse of these tusks, with portraits of George Washington & Abraham Lincoln. Finney’s work is quite renowned and sought and this particular pair are fresh and previously unknown to the market from a local New England Estate. CONDITION: Very good to fine. As found, crisp detail, minor cosmetic blemishes, small hairlines as expected. Special Note: This item(s) contains plant or animal properties that may be covered by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Please read the Conditions of Sale, section 15, for more information regarding the Endangered Species Act, and your responsibilities as a buyer. 52934-1 (6,000-8,000) ESA – Lot 2167

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Auction: Fine Art, Asian & Antiques - Winter 2018
Please Note: All prices include the hammer price plus the buyer’s premium, which is paid by the buyer as part of the purchase price. The prices noted here after the auction are considered unofficial and do not become official until after the 46th day.