On the Water

Scrimshaw Tooth

Women and ships were the most popular subjects for scrimshaw carved by crewmen on long, slow whaling voyages. In this deeply engraved example, a beautifully coiffed and fashionable young lady, possibly in mourning dress, has pulled a locket from her bodice and is gazing at the image of a smiling young man. The curls of her girlish hairstyle would indicate that she is unmarried, although the traditional ring finger of her left hand is not shown. The mid-19th-century date of this tooth is suggested by the style of the dress.

ID Number:
TR*374506
Maker:
unknown
Material:
sperm whale tooth
Date:
ca 1840
Dimensions:
6 3/4 x 3 1/2 x 2 5/16 in.; 17.145 x 8.89 x 5.8738 cm
Source:
Gift of Frederic A. Delano