Scrimshaw from African American whaling ship showcased at Bruneau Jan. 22

19th-century scrimshaw created aboard the only known vessel with an all-African American crew, which sold for $7,250 ($9,060 with buyer’s premium) at Bruneau & Co.

CRANSTON, R.I. – A 19th-century work of scrimshaw carved onboard a whaling ship with an all-African American crew will be presented at Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers on Monday, January 22. The finely worked sperm whale tooth, which depicts a detailed view of a bustling city and its harbor and the name John & Winthrop, is estimated at $2,000-$4,000. The catalog is now available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

The captain of the John & Winthrop, a whaling bark operating out of San Francisco in the 1880s and 1890s, was William T. Shorey (1859-1919). Known as Black Ahab to his crew, he was the only African American captain on the West Coast, and his ship the only whaler in the world to be manned entirely by an African American crew. A street in Oakland, where Shorey lived, is named after him. The scene engraved to this tooth likely depicts San Francisco and is accompanied by the words Bark John & Winthrop 1876 1880.

The 438-lot Winter Fine & Decorative Art online-only auction features items from a number of area estates and collections. A newly discovered Tonalist oil by Robert Bruce Crane (1857-1937) is expected to exceed its estimate of $2,000-$3,000. Kevin Bruneau, president and auctioneer, describes it as “a fresh find” and “the perfect study of a misty fall morning.” Crane specialized in these fall and winter scenes, which he developed at the Grez-sur-Loing art colony, but painted mainly from his studio in Bronxville, New York.

Another lot already attracting significant presale attention is a Chinese export oil-on-canvas painting depicting the 13 Hongs of Canton. It shows depicts numerous trade ships in the harbor at Canton (modern day Guangdong) and the Spanish, American, British, and Dutch flags flying from the warehouses where trade between the West and China was conducted from 1757 to 1842. The scene was popular in China Trade paintings from the mid-18th century, with this one dating from circa 1830 showing the buildings reconstructed after a catastrophic fire in November 1822. The pendant picture showing shipping on the Pearl River is offered separately with an estimate of $2,000-$3,000. Both pictures come from a Newport, Rhode Island estate.