I picked up this letter opener in the '90s probably at the big antique center in Newburyport, MA. I doubt that I paid more than two dollars for it, and felt that I had procured a lovely little piece very cheaply. I was attracted to it for a variety of reasons. The professionally trained carver had selected European walnut for the article; I've always favored European over American walnut for delicate pieces because of its color and tight grain.
Most of the ship's figureheads that have come down to us are anonymous.
I remembered back to my own Navy days. And recalling the old rubric that "if it moves - salute it. If it doesn't paint it,"
I carved intermittently from the 1960s through the mid-seventies. Going to graduate school put an end to most carving activities, and I didn't pick it up again until 1992.
Two of the best artists I've known were fluid on the choice of media.
Seeing may be believing, but feel will give you a less biased second opinion.
My mentors were just that, mentors. Several couldn't afford the expense that having an actual apprentice would cost; others were not interested. But then by the 1960s, the old apprenticeship programs in crafts like carving were gone.
I was at my booth at a boat show in Maryland when another maritime carver came to visit. Lordan was the local "yaahd cavaah," as we'd describe it in New England.
We so often admire the complex and then seek out and appreciate the simple
The gilt-edged age for the ship carver had to have been the 17th and 18th centuries. The figureheads were the least of it. There were gilded coats of arms, allegorical figures, swags, and elaborately carved moldings everywhere.