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.

Date Made: 1800s

Related Event: Civil War and ReconstructionThe Development of the Industrial United StatesExpansion and Reform


See more items in: Work and Industry: Maritime, Cultures & Communities, Work, Industry & Manufacturing, Natural Resources, Transportation, On the Water exhibit, Art

Exhibition: On the Water

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Related Web Publication:

Related Publication: On the Water online exhibition

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

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1978.0052.06Accession Number: 1978.0052Catalog Number: 1978.52.6

Object Name: Scrimshawscrimshaw whale stampObject Type: scrimshawsOther Terms: Scrimshaw; Maritime

Physical Description: sperm whale tooth (overall material)Measurements: overall: 1 1/8 in x 1 3/4 in x 3/4 in; 2.8575 cm x 4.445 cm x 1.905 cm


Record Id: nmah_844359

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