Extremly rare and important scrimshaw bird cage, dated 1862 probably made in New Bedford MA or on board a whale ship. The wire enclose square cage with pegged construction is ie nlaid with whale ivory, whalebone, baleen and exotic woods. Mounted to the side of the cage on the wire is a removable compartment with carved swan heads , inlaid in cherry , skinning and chopping knife designs . To the left is a small pullout feed draw with ivory pull and below is an inlaid ivory and bone pull out clean-out draw which has whalebone turn-kuckle looks. The top of the cage has whalebone finials and the bottom has bone feet. The base is inlaid with a compass rose and the intials "EB" and "PL" and is dated 1862. There is a bone square shaped signal flag with black square at the center., this is the maritime signal for "engines full speed astern". All four sides of the bird cage have scrimshaw inlay decorations. At the center of the top of the cage is a bulbous turned finial with a metal hanging or carrying ring. Running accross the cage near the middle is a wood dowel with a realistic looking small bird with talons and feathers perched near the center. (SC-1049)
Condition: The bird cage is in excellent condition and a warm age patina. There are two collection identification numbers written in red and black on the top surface of the clean-out draw.
Note: It is highly likely that this birdcage was made and presented by either "PL" Presbury N. Lane or "ER" Elisha Babcock both whaling captains of New Bedford. Below is a list of vessels and voyages by each of these captains and all voyages listed were sailed out of New Bedford harbor.
Presbury N. Lane
1849 Ship Edward
1854 Ship Mary Wilder
1857 Ship Emily
1866 Ship Ellen Morrison
1855 Ship Rodman
1860 Ship Lydia
1866 Ship Adeline Gibbs
Presbury N. Lane left New Bedford on October 17, 1857 and was whaling in the Pacific returning back to New Bedford May 8, 1861 and did not whale again untill 1866 which would put him home in 1862. Elisha Babcock left New Bedford to go whaling in the Pacific on May 16, 1860 and returned to New Bedford on May 17, 1864 which puts him at sea during 1862 the year this birdhouse was dated. It is possible that these New Bedford whaling captains were friends and that one or the other made this birdhouse as a gift to the other in 1862 and is was presented at a later date when Captian Elisha Babcock returned in 1864.
Refrence: "Ingenious Contrivances, Curiously Carved/ Scrimshaw In The New Bedfird Whaling Museum" by Stuart Frank. Published by David Godine in Association with the New Bedford Whaling Museum 2012. Other examples of whalebone and wood and whalebone bird cages appera on pages 268 and 269. Of the five birdcages in the collection only one has a know maker who was Captain from the ship Lancaster (1834-1842) Rodophus Nye Swift of Acushnet Mass .
Dimensions: Height 19 1/2, Width 11, debth 10 1/2 inches