Scrimshaw Sperm Whale Tooth, mid 19th Century

The entire surface of this small sperm whale tooth is highly polished, but only one side is carved. A couple stands under a leafy vine, and the vine motif is echoed on the hem of the woman's floor length dress. The front of her dress has an apron design, and she wears a kerchief at her neck and a small flat-brimmed hat perched on her head. She holds hands with a man wearing a waist-length cape over his shoulders, speckled chaps or trousers with slash pockets and pointed shoes or boots. He is also wearing a button-down shirt with vertical stripes and a large flat-brimmed hat, almost providing the effect of a western cowboy style outfit.
Currently not on view
Object Name
scrimshaw tooth, whale
Object Type
date made
mid 19th century
Physical Description
whale tooth (overall material)
overall: 5 in x 2 1/8 in x 1 3/8 in; 12.7 cm x 5.3975 cm x 3.4925 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Cultures & Communities
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Wilbur J. Gould

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