Relic from Darwin’s Epic Beagle Voyage for Sale at Bonhams

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LONDON.- A very rare signed scrimshawed whale’s tooth from Charles Darwin’s voyage on HMS Beagle, 1832-36, (£30,000-50,000) is one of the most intriguing items in the forthcoming Travel and Exploration sale at Bonhams on 15 September. It belonged to Private Thomas Burgess, a Royal Marine on board HMS Beagle for the entirety of its four year voyage and has come down through the family. The tooth is the work of a fellow Marine on board HMS Beagle, James Adolphus Bute, who is known to have produced several examples during the epic voyage. The silver mounted tooth depicts on one side a group of Fuegan natives in a canoe in the Beagle Channel, and on the other a settlement on Queen’s Island, Tahiti. On his return to England, Burgess made his way back to his home town of Stockport. He bought himself out of the service and, with the help of Admiral Sir Salisbury Davenport, secured an appointment in the Cheshire Constabulary whe