Plastic Scrimshaw Tooth (Fakeshaw), Late 20th Century

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This modern polymer tooth, or “fakeshaw”, was collected for comparative purposes. In recent years, authentic whale ivory and bone scrimshaw has become valuable on the folk art market. In the 1970s, companies began casting plastic replica scrimshaw teeth and other objects, usually with very elaborate scenes, dates and inscriptions. Many of these have made their way into antique shops and flea markets, where they are sold as authentic folk art instead of modern reproductions.
On one side of this tooth, there is a vertical portrait of Napoleon, inscribed with his name on the bottom. On the other side is a horizontal scene of a three-man gun crew hauling a loaded cannon up to a gun port on a lower deck of a warship. This side has “1815” inscribed below the men.
Currently not on view
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
overall: 16.5 cm x 6.3 cm x 3.8 cm; 6 1/2 in x 2 1/2 in x 1 1/2 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Walter John Silva, Falls Church VA
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Work and Industry: Maritime
Cultures & Communities
Data Source
National Museum of American History