Sperm Whale Tooth Watch Stand

Scrimshaw known to have been made specifically for men is comparatively rare. This unfinished tooth was hollowed out at the back to carry a gentleman’s pocket watch inside, perhaps set on a wardrobe, a bureau or a dressing table overnight.
Patriotic imagery was very popular on American scrimshaw. At the top is a large eagle in flight clutching arrows and an olive branch; the hole for the watch is framed by a simple scalloped line. The space at the bottom was probably reserved for the owner’s initials or possibly a date, and the two holes were likely drilled for ivory buttons. The piece was unfinished when it was donated in 1875 by J. H. Clark of Newport, R.I.
Object Name
whale tooth/clock holder
scrimshaw tooth, whale / watchholder
date made
19th century
Associated Date
Physical Description
tooth (overall material)
wood (base material)
silver (clock material)
glass (clock material)
overall: 7 1/4 in x 4 3/8 in x 2 in; 18.415 cm x 11.1125 cm x 5.08 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
related event
Expansion and Reform
Civil War and Reconstruction
The Development of the Industrial United States
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
Cultures & Communities
Industry & Manufacturing
Domestic Furnishings
Clothing & Accessories
Natural Resources
On the Water
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
J. H. Clark, of Newport, RI
Related Publication
On the Water online exhibition
Publication URL

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