Plastic Scrimshaw Tooth (Fakeshaw), Late 20th Century


This modern polymer tooth, or “fakeshaw”, was collected for comparative purposes. In recent years, authentic whale ivory and bone scrimshaw has become valuable on the folk art market. In the 1970s, companies began casting plastic replica scrimshaw teeth and other objects, usually with very elaborate scenes, dates and inscriptions. Many of these have made their way into antique shops and flea markets, where they are sold as authentic folk art instead of modern reproductions.

On one side of this tooth, there is a vertical portrait of Napoleon, inscribed with his name on the bottom. On the other side is a horizontal scene of a three-man gun crew hauling a loaded cannon up to a gun port on a lower deck of a warship. This side has “1815” inscribed below the men.

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Work and Industry: Maritime, Scrimshaw, Cultures & Communities, Transportation, Art


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Walter John Silva

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1998.0004.01Catalog Number: 1998.0004.01Accession Number: 1998.0004

Object Name: scrimshaw, plasticscrimshaw tooth, plastic

Physical Description: plastic (overall material)Measurements: overall: 16.5 cm x 6.3 cm x 3.8 cm; 6 1/2 in x 2 1/2 in x 1 1/2 in


Record Id: nmah_1386776

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.