Scrimshaw Sperm Whale Tooth, 19th-20th Centuries


The obverse of this sperm whale tooth is filled with a freehand etching of a large whaling ship with all sails set moving from right to left. Below is carved the name "JOSH-HEWITT" in a pennant. On the other side is a set piece of four whaling tools: a harpoon, a boat hook, two head spades and a boat spade, loosely bundled together vertically on their handles by a pennant marked "THE FLORIDA NEW BEDFORD/ SEP 1858 To OCT 1861."

Built at New York in 1821, this whaling ship named Florida (there were others as well) was already very old in the 1850s. Hailing from Fairhaven, MA (not New Bedford, on the other side of the Acushnet River) in 1858, this Florida did undertake a whaling voyage in the North Pacific from September 1858 to October 1861, collecting 750 barrels of sperm oil and 1660 barrels of whale oil. However, there is no one named Hewitt in the New Bedford Whaling Museum Whaling Crew List Database for this ship. The Florida was sold at San Francisco upon its arrival in October 1861, and its oil was shipped back east via another vessel. Florida was finally abandoned in 1871, after a remarkable 50-year career.

Date Made: 19th-20th century

Location: Currently not on view

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


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: From the collection of Dr. and Mrs. Wilbur J. Gould

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1978.0052.31Accession Number: 1978.0052Catalog Number: 1978.0052.31

Object Name: scrimshawscrimshaw tooth, whale

Physical Description: whale tooth (overall material)Measurements: overall: 5 1/2 in x 2 7/8 in x 1 3/4 in; 13.97 cm x 7.3025 cm x 4.445 cm


Record Id: nmah_309371

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