Sailors' craftwork, Decorative art, Routes and Resources

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Whale tooth

Sailors' craftwork

Object connections:

Collection Sailors' craftwork, Decorative art, Routes and Resources
ExhibitionsNorth-West Passage
User collections Illustrated Teeth and Bone by dmclark
Gallery locationNot on display

Object details:

Object ID AAA0022
Description A large sperm whale tooth (probably a pair with AAA0023). It is engraved with a barque-rigged whaler wearing a British ensign at the main; in the foreground two boats are harpooning whales, a third is being towed along by a whale it has harpooned. A fourth boat is towing a dead whale marked with a flag towards the ship, another dead whale with a marker flag is seen to the left, a low rocky coast is shown in the background. On the other side are engraved two warships, a frigate and a 74-gun ship shown at sea with a harbour depicted at the tip of the tooth. There is a small sailing boat in the harbour, with an isolated cottage shown inland. This type of sailor's craftwork is known as scrimshaw; the rig and construction of the ships indicates that this is a very early example. The tooth is also very large, indicating that it was obtained before the bigger whales were fished out.
Date made circa 1810

Artist/Maker Unknown
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials Whale tooth
Measurements 51 x 200 x 83 mm
  • Whale tooth (AAA0022)
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