Mar 01, 2012 - Sale 2271

Sale 2271 - Lot 1

Price Realized: $ 11,400
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 8,000 - $ 12,000
(SLAVERY AND ABOLITION.) EARLY ENGLISH SLAVERS, JOHN HAWKINS ET AL. Elephant Ivory Tusk, recovered from the wreck of a 16th century slave ship. 45 inches long with pronounced curvature; 4 inches in diameter at the base, tapering to a fine tip; the surface, uneven from long period in salt water has been professionally restored and preserved resulting in a smooth, warm patina; mounted on a polished wood panel, 18 x 47 inches, upon which is a copper and brass plaque with the following engraved on it: "This elephant tusk recovered from circa 1543 shipwreck on the Great Bahama Bank by Captain Herbert Humphreys Jr, the officers and crew of the research vessel Beaconin 1992. Framed and preserved by Rene Charette, chief preservationist." Np, circa 1543

Additional Details

This ivory tusk was recovered from one of two wrecks discovered on the Great Bahama Bank by Captain Herbert "Herbo" Humphreys Jr. in 1992. He and the team of the research vessel "Beaconin" had been searching for the stern portion of a Spanish wreck, the "Nuestra Senora de las Maravillas," known to have gone down in these waters in 1656, carrying a reported cargo of five million ounces of Peruvian gold and silver. The Great Bahama Bank is a notorious "graveyard" for ships, caught in storms and driven onto the treacherous reefs. Instead of the Nuestra Senora de las Maravilas, Humphreys and his team came upon two other ships. One was dubbed the "Tumbaga" wreck, for the type of Spanish gold bar found there, the other an early English slave ship. Both vessels could be dated with some accuracy because of the objects recovered from them. The Spanish ship yielded coinage dated 1525; while a canon raised from the English ship was found to have made by the noted English armorers, the Owynn Brothers. The latter bore the arms of King Henry VIII and was dated 1543. Thus the ship might have sunk any time within ten years or so of the manufacture of the canon. In addition to the canon, two ivory tusks were found, one of which is offered here. Also found were the remnants of shackles and a carved Ballast stone with West African design sold in these rooms in 2011.
The earliest organized slave traders were the Spanish, supplying their plantations in the New World. But the English were quick to follow, realizing the economics of the trade. Admiral Sir John Hawkins (1532-1595) is credited with being among the first to establish the "Triangular" trade as it came to be known, carrying cargoes in excess of 300 slaves from Africa to the Spanish colonies in Santo Domingo and then back to England with cane sugar and rum.