Scrimshaw Sperm Whale’s Tooth, Mid-19th Century

Description
Danger was never far away for the crew of a whale ship out in the middle of the ocean. One side of this large tooth is engraved with a ship in the middle of a storm. The waves are high, and most of the ship’s sails have been taken in. Many of the sails that are left out are tattered and torn, and the rigging lines are slack, indicating strong winds.
The other side of the tooth has a whale on the surface of the ocean with two harpoons sticking out of its back. It has just knocked a whaleboat out of the water and into the air, breaking it in half. Two hapless crew are about to land in the water to swim or drown. In the distant background sails the mother ship, too far away to rescue the whaleboat’s crew.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
tooth, whale
scrimshaw tooth, whale
Physical Description
scrimshaw (overall production method/technique)
tooth (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 17.2 cm; 6 3/4 in
ID Number
DL*65.1130
catalog number
65.1130
accession number
256396
subject
Scrimshaw
Art
Transportation
Cultures & Communities
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
Scrimshaw
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Eleanor and Mabel (Marsh) Van Alstyne
Additional Media

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.

Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.