A ‘Scrimshaw’ elephant ivory tusk depicting ‘The Voyage in the Sunbeam’
L. 65 x W. 12 x D. 8 cm
Depicted here is the Voyage in the Sunbeam, the famous voyage Lady Anna ‘Annie’ Baroness Brassey (1839-1887) her husband Thomas Earl Brassey (1836-1918) and their five children undertook in 1876 and 1877. They boarded their luxury yacht Sunbeam and travelled the world. A full account of their journey via amongst others South America, Hawaii, Japan, China and Sri Lanka was first published in 1878 as “Around the World in the Yacht ‘Sunbeam’, our Home in the Ocean for Eleven Months” written by Lady Brassey. The novel comprises fantastic stories of a long-lost world. Amongst them their visit to the Maharaja of Jahore, who “... gave me some splendid Malay silk sarongs, grown, made and woven in his kingdom, a pair of tusks of an elephant shot within a mile of the house...” according to Brassey.
After their travels, they welcomed King Kalākaua of Hawaii in July 1881, who had been incredibly pleased with her description of his kingdom. He was entertained at Normanhurst Castle and invested Lady Brassey with the Royal Order of Kapiolani.
The illustrations in the book are after etchings by the Honourable A.Y. Gingham, who worked for Brassey aboard the Sunbeam. We can safely assume that he was given this tusk by Lady Brassey, after she received a pair from the Maharaja, to engrave the voyage on this elephant tusk, thus making it a rare literary relic.
Christie’s London, 10 November 1994, lot 60 Private collection, United Kingdom
With Martyn Gregory ltd., London