On the Water

Scrimshaw Whale Bone Food Chopper

Simply carved and without any engraving, this food chopper, or mincer, was made in two pieces from a sperm whale’s jawbone. Its blunted, curved blade was used to chop soft foods such as bread dough, fruits, sausage, and animal fats. This example was donated by former Secretary of the Institution Spencer F. Baird (1823–1887) to the Smithsonian, where it became one of the earliest objects in the maritime collections.

ID Number:
AG*024909
Material:
sperm-whale's jaw
Date:
1800s
Dimensions:
7 1/4 in x 5 5/8 in x 1 in; 18.415 cm x 14.2875 cm x 2.54 cm