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
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
Credit Line
Gift of Eleanor and Mabel (Marsh) Van Alstyne
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
Cultures & Communities
Art
Scrimshaw
Transportation
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

Comments

Add a comment about this object