Captain William Kidd was always believed to have secretly buried his stolen booty before he was arrested and transported back to England to stand trial. In a desperate bid to save his life after being sentenced to death, Kidd wrote to Robert Harley, speaker of the House of Commons, stating, "In my late proceedings in the Indies, I have lodged goods and tresure [sic] to the value of £100,000." However, Kidd was still hanged on May 23, 1701.
Two treasure maps were carefully hidden in secret compartments in items of Kidd¹s furniture. The maps were discovered in 1929/30, and tested at the time by the British Museum. The museum confirmed the ink compound and parchment were of 17th century origin. The two maps depict the same distinctively shaped island, but with different markings and clues.
Various theories propose that before Kidd left the Indian Ocean to declare his spoils in America, he deposited his personal hoard on his treasure island, intending to return at a later date to collect his secret cache. Theories of the treasure island¹s location include Oak Island, Nova Scotia;
Clarke's Island, on the Connecticut River; an island in the Indian Ocean; an island off of Wilmington, North Carolina; and Hei Ling Chau Island near Hong Kong. Kidd's treasure has never been found.
Maritime scrimshaw, a unique American art form, has its roots in the age of wooden ships. In the 18th century, whaler sailing ships harvested whale and walrus blubber for lamp oil and candle wax. The sailors on whaling ships had a lot of spare time on board their ships. When not hunting and processing whales, mariners occupied their free time etching and making small objects from whaling byproducts. The bones and teeth of sperm whales, baleen, and walrus tusks were readily available on board ship. These were a highly viable medium to produce hand tools, toys, utensils, and decorative pieces.
Sailors etched pictures and nautical scenes on bone, teeth, and tusks using sail sewing needles and small tools. Candle black, soot, or tobacco juice was used to bring the etched drawings into view. The earliest authenticated pictorial scrimshaw piece appeared around 1817.
This historical set includes a resin replica of one of Kidd¹s 18th century treasure maps drawn on a whale tooth. The map shows topological features of an island and the designated location of the treasure.