On the Water

Scrimshaw Ivory Whale Stamp

Carved from the teeth of captured sperm whales, whale stamps were used to record the type of whale and number of barrels of oil they yielded.

The stamps were inked onto the page of whaleship logbooks or sailors’ journals, with an empty space in the whale’s body for writing in the number of barrels. This example in the form of a sperm whale is decorated with steel pin heads and a turned handle.

ID Number:
1978.0052.06
Material:
sperm whale teeth
Date:
1800s
Dimensions:
1.125" x 1.75" x .75"
Source:
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Wilbur J. Gould

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