Dory Scoop, 1880s


Scoops and bailers are essential tools for fishermen who work out of small boats. Water inevitably finds its way into vessels and bailing becomes a frequent but necessary chore. This scoop, carved out of one piece of wood, was used prior to 1883 by cod fishermen from Gloucester, Massachusetts, to bail out their dories.

Small, flat-bottomed dories were not used in the American commercial cod fishery until after 1850, when trawl-line fishing expanded. Dories were ideal for the purpose: they could be nested together on the deck of the larger, fishing schooner until needed. On the water, they were light and easy to handle, as well as stable. When fishing long trawl lines, fishermen would leave the relative comforts of the schooners to work in pairs as dorymates. Because they were away from the schooners for many hours, the fishermen carried provisions and gear in the dories, including water, food, oars, a mast and sail, anchors, buoys and markers, several trawl tubs, pen boards for holding the fish, several scoops and bailers, fog horns, a compass, and more.

This dory scoop was displayed at the 1883 International Fisheries Exhibition in London. The United States’ portion of the display was organized by the U.S. Fish Commission and included a wealth of gear, models, photographs, fishery products, and everyday objects used by American fishermen. The international exhibition was on view between May 12 and November 1, during which a daily average of 18,545 people toured the buildings and grounds. When the exhibition closed, the collections that represented the United States were sent to the Smithsonian Institution and a catalog was published: Descriptive Catalogues of the Collections Sent from the United States to the International Fisheries Exhibition, London, 1883, Constituting A Report Upon the American Section. Prepared under the direction of G. Brown Goode, U.S. Commissioner, and a staff of associates. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1884.

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Massachusetts, Gloucester

Used: Whaling


See more items in: Work and Industry: Fisheries, Work, Industry & Manufacturing, Natural Resources


Exhibition Location:

Related Publication: Brown, James Temple. The Whale Fishery and Its Appliances, Catalogue of Collection, International Exhibit, 1876

Credit Line: S. Elwell, Jr.

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: AG.025222Catalog Number: 025222

Object Name: dory scoop

Physical Description: wood (overall material)Measurements: overall: 12 in x 6 in; 30.48 cm x 15.24 cm


Record Id: nmah_866999

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