Carved Wood Ship’s American Eagle Head Relic Ca 1850
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LARGE CARVED AMERICAN EAGLE HEAD WOOD RELIC LIKELY FROM STERN BOARD
Carving Dates to Ca 1850
This fine eagle head carving by an unknown carver is a true work
of Folk Art. The proportions of the relic and measurements are realistic, and the detailing is precise. It
was discovered in Maine and mounted in an old sailor made fancy marlin work picture frame for display.
head Relic framed: 14 3/4 ” L x 12 1/2” H x 1
3/4” D Weight 3
lbs 9 oz Eagle Head
7″ L x 4″ H x 3 1/4″ D
Presented is a carved wood, very old, American eagle head with superbly incised detailing of its
features. It dates back many years, and was assuredly done by a master carver who was active in the 1850’s
and specialized in ship carvings. The head curves sharply to the left, the viewer’s right, which is indicative of
eagles that were to be mounted as a stern board or on a plaque. The brow has the fierce look that is common to eagle
heads of a patriotic nature. And the feathers are individually chiseled which is unique to this unnamed carver. Since eagle
carvers rarely if ever signed their works, there is no way to attribute who might be the artist, except by matching the
technique. As unique and stylized as it is, we have been unable to find a closer match then the stern board eagle
in the Mallory Building at the Mystic Seaport. Both heads have the characteristic pose with the open vertically curved beak,
extended tongue and fierce eyebrows. It is displayed high on the west wall of the Mallory Building. As displayed, it
makes a fine example of American nautical folk art as does this eagle head relic.
smaller sizes, patriotic wood carvings of American eagles were very popular in mid 19th Century New England homes, and
these are the most numerous of the examples in today’s market. The larger size eagles in this form were more importantly used
to grace the sterns of American sailing ships. This example of the head alone is all that is left of a full size carving of
an eagle of the larger size.
Near vertical front
edge of beak
Back of head showing large original
Looking from the front. Sharp incisions
Arrow points to gold gilt remnants
CONDITION: The carving is very old, but except for its loss
of paint and gold gilding, it is in fine condition. The back of the head has a large mounting hole which is original. The
wood frame with detailed sailor’s made rope work is without faults and dates from the first quarter of the 20th Century. The
varnish on it is original. The black painted wood panel on which the head is mounted is contemporary. =left>
beak and sharply incised feathers contradict the signature style beak
Unfortunately we cannot verify its provenance other than it fits one of John
Bellamy’s known design parameters for an eagle head, but lacks the others. It was said to have come from a New England
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