Scrimshaw Sperm Whale Tooth, mid-19th Century

This small sperm whale's tooth is highly polished, but only has an unfinished freehand carving on one side. Identifiable by the whaleboats on davits along the right or starboard side, a small three-masted whaleship sails from left to right on a choppy sea. The ship's hull is deeply carved and detailed, but the sails are only outlined, with some sketchy standing rigging just started by the artist.
Currently not on view
Object Name
scrimshaw tooth, whale
date made
mid 19th century
Physical Description
whale tooth (overall material)
scrimshaw (overall production method/technique)
overall: 5 in x 1 5/8 in x 1 1/8 in; 12.7 cm x 4.1275 cm x 2.8575 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
Cultures & Communities
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Wilbur J. Gould

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.