I was listening to the radio(XM news interview to be precise), http://www.xmradio.com/whatisxm/inyourvehicle/index.xmc, and heard this interview with the producer of Shark week on Discovery, http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/sharkweek/sharkweek.html.  I just returned home with Tokyo, Joe, and Chris from a week in Cape San Blas, FL where we went on a fishing charter for sharks.  Guess who caught the only two in our group ? Me! You can see in the picture below what fun it was.  Of course, Tokyo took a shot near St. Joe’s Bay.  You know it is summer, so this fishing trip combined with the interview about the shark week show made me think it would be great to blog about the relationship between sharks and antiques.

If you have ever felt shark skin you know it has some grit.  As I got to feel first hand on my fishing trip!  Shark skin was used as a sand paper in this country, up until the 18th century, in the making of fine Federal pieces of furniture.

However, there is a really beautiful natural hide covering that is derived from shark and it is called shagreen,  http://east.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shagreen

Main Entry: sha·green
Pronunciation: \sha-ˈgrēn, shə-\
Function: noun
Etymology: by folk etymology from French chagrin, modification of Turkish sağrı
Date: 1677

1 : an untanned leather covered with small round granulations and usually dyed green
2 : the rough skin of various sharks and rays when covered with small close-set tubercles

The Victorian’s used shagreen extensively for small cases, such as lancet and eye glass cases and for purses and linings.  The best examples should be clean, have a bright beautiful small granulated surface and function well.  Retail price ranges for pieces such as these can range from $100 – $500.  So be on the look out for this when you are sorting through an elder’s belongings.

If you think you have a piece of shagreen and would like an expert opinion, please feel free to contact ValtheEvaluator.