Whaler's Whalebone Scraper

This odd tool was used to scrape the flesh off the bones from a freshly caught whale. It was the last step in processing the whale’s body before the bone was partially dried on deck and then stowed below in the cargo hold. Once the ship was back in port, the bone was placed on end in large yards to dry further.
The bone and baleen—rows of bony strips in a whale’s upper jaw that filter food from seawater—from a whaling voyage could yield as much as $50,000, or even greater profits than the oil itself. Baleen served a wide variety of purposes from buggy whips to umbrella ribs to women’s corset stays.
Object Name
scraper, whalebone
date made
Physical Description
wood (handle material)
iron (blade material)
iron (shank material)
overall: 11 1/2 in x 5 in; 29.21 cm x 12.7 cm
Place Made
United States: Massachusetts, New Bedford
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Natural Resources
Cultures & Communities
On the Water exhibit
The Development of the Industrial United States
See more items in
Work and Industry: Fisheries
On the Water exhibit
On the Water
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
F. S. Allen, through J. T. Brown
Publication title
On the Water online exhibition
Publication URL

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