Scrimshaw Sperm Whale Tooth, 19th-20th Centuries

Scrimshaw Sperm Whale Tooth, 19th-20th Centuries

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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.
Currently not on view
Object Name
scrimshaw tooth, whale
date made
19th-20th century
Physical Description
whale tooth (overall material)
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
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
From the collection of Dr. and Mrs. Wilbur J. Gould
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
Cultures & Communities
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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