Ships Figurehead Male Carved Wood Authentic

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Vintage Hand Carved Wood

Classic American Folk Art

From a Special Collection
36″ H x 16″ W x 18″ D Weight 60 pounds
Carver Unknown Markings
Provenance originally Ramon Parga Collection Period Ca 1940
Presented is an authentic, carved wood, ship’s figurehead, possibly
American, which is in a style that was quite prevalent on ships of the 1850s. We have seen a number of very similar ones in
museums and at various auctions, all based on a male dressed in a period costume consisting of a formal jacket with a wide
lapel, vest and an ascot around the neck. The face with very curly hair and a prominent mutton chop beard is carefully carved.
At the sides are large green aconthus leaves and from the back and the front is a billet head painted black. The paint has
been refreshed sometime in the past.

Hayland-Granby of Hyannis, MA, one of this country’s finest nautical antique dealers, in 2010, had almost an exact duplicate
in size and appearance for sale, but with its original polychrome finish. They dated it as Ca 1940. In 2009, Freeman’s, America’s
oldest auction house, had one in their April 14th, 2008, Americana catalog with a pre-sale estimate of $8,000-$12,000. It
is also similar to one sold by Northeast Auctions in August, 2006. It is obvious, that this style of figurehead was very popular
at one time and was carved by a number of artisans. As recently as August 22, 2011 Eldreds’ Auctions sold a figurehead of
a different design from the Ramon Parga Collection for $2875.00 that was signed and dated by Parga in 1967. It was Parga’s
practice to sign his own carvings.

To view a
just discovered authentic American Figurehead from a sailing yacht, Ca 1865, see
PROVENANCE: This example was in Ramon Parga’s private collection.
He was a recognized collector of marine antiques, master model maker, woodcarver, and restorer of considerable renown. Parga
was also a historian and had amassed a collection of important papers from John Abel Lord (1872-1945). Lord had a long and
distinguished maritime career in various capacities, and was in charge of the rebuilding of the Frigate USS Constitution in
1925. On March 24, 2001, the USS Constitution Museum purchased the Lord Collection at auction. The seller was Ramon Parga
who was a Constitution Museum founding member. After retiring, Parga moved to Florida and continued his collecting. He was
active through the early 2000’s, and died there around 2007.

Classic ship’s figurehead. Closeup of the head. Style of the 1850’s

CONDITION: The figurehead
is made of a solid trunk of wood on the bottom, but higher up the raised paint shows there are seams. The bottom which shows
considerable age. The surface paint shows wear, and vertical cracks which are the result of weathering outside. There are
a few areas with a loss of paint which are usually on an edge such as shown below in the photo of the billet head. Otherwise,
everything is in good condition overall.
We estimate the figurehead is 50 to 70 years old. from,
and its 36 inch size makes it ideal for display in a home or office

Masculine features with mutton chop beard. Note the paint cracks and curls.


as an art form
are long past, having gone the way of the sailing
ships upon which they graced the bow. American figurehead carvers were renown for their work, which flourished from colonial
times until the late nineteenth century. Most every class of ship, from steamboats to whalers to clipper ships, came to be
ornamented with carving which would include trailboards, stern boards and various types of figureheads. As was fitting, large
ships generally had full length figures of generous proportions while smaller ships had busts, heads, and half and three-quarter-length
figures with scroll and leaf carving fitted as is the case of this example.
the 18th and 19th cent. a highly developed and original art of figurehead wood carving flourished in the United States at
a time when little other sculpture was practiced. Few authentic examples survive.

Minor loss of paint and cracks on the billet head and overall

Figurehead art became practically extinct
with the disappearance of
the sailing vessel
, and today may only be found in maritime museums. This is a great opportunity to
acquire an apartment size one for your personal enjoyment.

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