The natural resources collections offer centuries of evidence about how Americans have used the bounty of the American continent and coastal waters. Artifacts related to flood control, dam construction, and irrigation illustrate the nation's attempts to manage the natural world. Oil-drilling, iron-mining, and steel-making artifacts show the connection between natural resources and industrial strength.
Forestry is represented by saws, axes, a smokejumper's suit, and many other objects. Hooks, nets, and other gear from New England fisheries of the late 1800s are among the fishing artifacts, as well as more recent acquisitions from the Pacific Northwest and Chesapeake Bay. Whaling artifacts include harpoons, lances, scrimshaw etchings in whalebone, and several paintings of a whaler's work at sea. The modern environmental movement has contributed buttons and other protest artifacts on issues from scenic rivers to biodiversity.
- Scrimshaw known to have been made specifically for men is comparatively rare. This unfinished tooth was hollowed out at the back to carry a gentleman’s pocket watch inside, perhaps set on a wardrobe, a bureau or a dressing table overnight.
- Patriotic imagery was very popular on American scrimshaw. At the top is a large eagle in flight clutching arrows and an olive branch; the hole for the watch is framed by a simple scalloped line. The space at the bottom was probably reserved for the owner’s initials or possibly a date, and the two holes were likely drilled for ivory buttons. The piece was unfinished when it was donated in 1875 by J. H. Clark of Newport, R.I.
- date made
- 19th century
- Associated Date
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History
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