Tuesday, August 2, 2011

DISCOVERY: Another mysterious carving from the St. Croix.

Mysterious carving a 'fascinating relic,' says auctioneer
Published Monday August 1st, 201
Discovery: Stone carving found on the shores of the St. Croix River resembles French explorer
April Cunningham

SAINT JOHN - With a thin mustache, long hair and a narrow face, the stone sculpture casts a striking likeness to Samuel de Champlain, the French cartographer who explored Bay of Fundy shores in the early 1600s.

Photo: Cindy Wilson/Telegraph-Journal

Kevin Bond, a Kingston Peninsula auctioneer, says he's never seen anything like the stone carving he plans to auction off later this summer. The stone, found buried along the shore of the St. Croix River, resembles Samuel de Champlain.

And while the stone's age and value remain a mystery, antique auctioneer Kevin Bond has his theories.

Fifty years ago, the sculpture was found buried along the shore of the St. Croix River, the same place where Champlain's expedition settled for one harsh winter in 1604.

Now in Bond's hands, he wonders if the carving may be as old as Champlain himself.

"If you're a common labourer in France in the 1600s and you're on an expedition such as this, you'll carve one of the guys you admire - one of your leaders," said Bond, a history buff who owns Bonds Auctions on the Kingston Peninsula.

Bond isn't sure - and neither are experts he's consulted - but he thinks the sculpture could be 400 years old, a "fascinating relic" that may have been carved by the people who wintered on St. Croix Island in 1604.

"It's one of those things, when you're in the antique auction business. Once in a while you come across something that's absolutely intriguing," he said, holding the stone sculpture, which has a flat back and an ornately-carved face.

"It's a mystery."

Bond is trying to sell the artifact on consignment for a family north of Fredericton. But he said the story behind the rock matters more than its potential value.

The sculpture belonged to an elderly man who had amassed a large collection of strange and unique items before he died.

The man found the sculpture while digging along the shore of the St. Croix River, near St. Andrews, with his family in 1960 or 1961, Bond said.

"They cleaned it off, put it in the car, and the youngest boy, his foot accidentally kicked the nose, and broke it off," he said.

The father glued the nose back on, but it remains slightly crooked.

For years, the carving remained face-up on a mantel in the York County home.

Now the man's children - his executors - want the artifact to go to a collector or a museum, Bond said, with someone who will appreciate its historical significance.

But many questions still surround the piece - its age, its origin, and who is depicted in the carving.

Randy Miller, a palaeontologist and geologist with the New Brunswick Museum, said it would be difficult to tell the age and origins of the rock without taking a sample and grinding it down.

After examining the rock, Miller said he thinks it could be volcanic rock, which is common in southern New Brunswick and Charlotte County, where it was found.

"Volcanic rock a very complex mix of rock types, so it would be quite difficult to track it back to a specific rock outcrop," he said. Only geologists very familiar with local rock formations along the St. Croix might trace a link.

Volcanic rock here range from 350 million to 600 million years old, but it would be extremely difficult to pinpoint the time the stone was carved, he said. In fact, it's quite possible the rock isn't from New Brunswick at all.

Bond said the New Brunswick Museum told him they didn't have the funding to buy the piece. So the value and story behind the piece remain shrouded in mystery.

The auctioneer said he will auction the carving for the family later this summer.

"It really is a national treasure and should be put on public display," he said, adding he's never seen anything like the carving in all his years of antiquing.

"Not like this. I don't think I've ever even seen anything to rival it."

No videos or pictures in your ILQW email? See them at http://ilovequoddywild.blogspot.com

No comments:

Post a Comment