A Fine and Historic Pair of African Elephant Tusks; Together with a Bronze Bust of Robert Ruark
Shot by noted author Robert Ruark on Safari in Kenya, late 1950s.
Each mounted on an elephant foot form metal base, the tusks with dark aged patina, measuring approximately 61 inches tip to toe, 72 inches along outside curve, 20 inches circumference at base, each weighing approximately 150 pounds, all inclusive.
Robert Ruark (1915-1965) began his post-World War II career as a syndicated columnist, eventually becoming one of the most popular adventure writers of the 1950s and 1960s. A disciple of Ernest Hemingway, Ruark's interest in Africa spawned both novels and romantic accounts of his safaris to that continent. He wrote extensively of Africa and hunting. His most significant work, Something of Value, still stands as one of the most vivid portrayals of the bitter decline of the British Empire in Africa. It recounts, in fictional form, the violent Mau-Mau Uprising in Kenya of the early 1950s.
Ruark's personal safari experiences informed much of his work. He counted himself fortunate to have engaged the famed outfitters Ker & Downey Safaris of Nairobi, Kenya, which booked him with one of the 20th century's most famous professional hunters, Harry Selby. Ruark requested Selby's services specifically from a desire to hunt with the same tracker, Kidogo, who had guided Hemingway on safari.
While Kidogo was indeed part of Selby's crew, it was Selby himself that gained the most recognition from Ruark's accounts. Selby found himself a legend among big game circles, and was booked, years in advance, by Americans wanting to experience the romantic (and fleeting) life in the bush so lovingly detailed by Ruark and Hemingway. In fact, much of the romanticizing of the final years of hunting in colonial Africa can be attributed to Ruark, while his description of the fictionalized "great white hunter" Peter Mackenzie, in Horn of the Hunter, was a mythos-making portrait of Selby, a man whose "lips curved down in scorn at the idea of hunting anywhere that other men hunted..." and who "could trot thirty miles a day in the smiting sun after elephants and still have enough gas left to run over a mountain at the end of it."
These tusks took pride of place in Ruark's home, as is shown in the photographs from an album of personal memorabilia that accompany this lot.
Provenance: Robert Ruark, with Harry Selby PH, Northwest Frontier District, Kenya, probably second safari, late 1950s; Estate of Marilyn Kaytor, Ruark's heir and fiancee at the time of his death.
Together with a Bronze Bust of Robert Ruark. By Nison Tregor (Lithuanian/American 1904-1972). Height 15 inches.
Estate of Marilyn Kaytor
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