An historically important ship’s figurehead from the Brazilian slave ship ‘Piratenim’


“Sworders sell historic  Figurehead of a South American Gaucho for £50,000  ( Plus premium )
a British sales record for a male Figurehead” read more at…


Hunter Figurehead Archives

To feature an historic and important figurehead to be sold in its sale on the 9th December 2014

During its Winter Country House Sale at its Stansted Mountfitchet Auction room

Carved wood and painted, modeled as a South American gaucho, the 3/4 length figure a white shirt and a red scarf a brass buttoned jacket and clasping his boleadoras to his left, 63cm high
With a book by Captain John C. Bailey ‘H.M.S Sharpshooter’, privately printed a typed draft of Averil MacKenzie-Grieve’s ‘The Last of the Brazilian Slavers, 1851’ with an alternate title ‘A Brazilian Slaver’s Figurehead – The story of the capture by HMS Sharpshooter’ (3) Bought by the vendor’s grandfather, from an antique dealer in Worcester in the 1940s

Literature: Averil Mackenzie-Grieve ‘The Last of the Brazilian Slavers, 1851, Mariners Mirror, Vol. 30, 1944. Captain John C. Bailey ‘H.M.S Sharpshooter’

HMS Sharpshooter was one of the first iron steamers to be used by the Royal Navy, was built by Ditchburn and Mare in 1846, and entered service after sea trails in 1848. In Captain Bailey’s account she was, ‘a brand new and experimental steam gun vessel of 489 tons and 202 horse-power, carrying eight guns, namely six 32-pounder medium guns on the broadsides, one 8-inch 68-pounder pivot gun forward, and one 10-inch 84-pounder pivot aft. She was the first iron ship to which the screw propeller had ever been applied’. After serving in the Channel Squadron and the Mediterranean, HMS Sharpshooter headed to the coast of Brazil on anti-slavery duties. Averil Mackenzie-Grieve’s ‘The Last of the Brazilian Slavers, 1851, published in The Mariners Mirror, Vol. 30, 1944, takes details from Captain Bailey’s account and explains vividly the capture of the ‘Piratenim’.

Over 70 years ago a small two page article appeared in the British publication The Mariners Mirror under the heading “The last of the Brazilian Slaver 1851”, the story of a Figurehead, describing the extraordinary history of the Piratenim Figurehead, from its dramatic capture by the British Warship HMS SHARPSHOOTER to its remarkable survival as a relic of vessel with a tragic history and career, after 70 years in private hands this historically important carving is coming back on to the market, with an outstanding provenance, had the unfortunate Piratenim been engaged in general trade it’s doubtful that this charming figurehead would have survived, one of countess small merchant Figureheads produced during the first half of the nineteenth century, the fact that he was removed from a known and notorious slaver, and as such possibly the only acknowledged and documented figurehead from a vessel engaged in the Slave trade has ensured his survival, from the time he was removed from the bow of the vessel as a trophy and given first to Sir Joseph Bailey, to the ultimate safe keeping of its last owner Mr Vivian Collett, very few surviving Figureheads have the weight of history so heavy on its shoulders, this is one such Figurehead, the benign stare of that charming unknown Argentine gaucho belies the horror of the trade its host undertook, the surviving journal of John Bailey, Lieutenant in command of HMS SHARPSHOOTER is compelling reading, bringing to life the history of this particular figurehead.

Piratenim is an important and rare artefact in the history of the abolishment of the slave trade, during the first half of the nineteenth century as well as a ships figurehead, the only surviving relic of its host vessel. Offering this figurehead an enviable provenance given to very few carvings of this age, size and subject

Richard Hunter
Figurehead Historian,
“The Hunter Figurehead Archives”

Should you be interested in this carving and would like more details, I have a number of other views showing the carving in more detail, or should you would be interested in me acting as your agent in the sale from the United Kingdom, please contact me.


For further details on this item and the sale visit…