Patriotic Polychrome Scrimshaw-Decorated Whalebone Busk 

Northeast, ca. 1820-1850.

Probably sailor made as a special gift for his lady at home. (A busk was a rigid piece of material inserted into the front of a corset or bodice to keep it upright and straight).

Richly decorated with individual panels enclosed within a sawtooth border, the top-panel featuring crossed American flags and the eagle/great seal of America. Additional panels are scrimshawed with flowers, compasses/pinwheels, a beautiful home, and likely the ship on which the busk was made.

The most intriguing panel is one that has a clock above an hour glass with a hand holding a quill pen and another holding a flower, perhaps suggesting time is running out to be married. Fine condition, no cracks.

About 14 3/8 inches long. From a private New England collection, long ago in the collection of Frank T. Howard, historian and philanthropist, and President, The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. 

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