Nantucket Scrimshaw

If you watched my experiment with a whale oil lamp, you know that I have an interest in nineteenth century whaling. There are two fine museums dedicated to that bygone industry, located in the Massachusetts coastal towns that feature in Melville’s novel, Moby Dick: New Bedford and Nantucket. Having sailed out to Nantucket recently, I visited the museum on the island.

Pictured below are examples of scrimshaw from the collection—in this case whale teeth—laboriously engraved by sailors, as well as the once ubiquitous whalebone corset.

One thought on “Nantucket Scrimshaw

  1. I’ve done some scrimming, before the bans, and love your photos. Too bad there aren’t more of them to show how marvelous scrimshaw looks. It’s wonderful that these specimens let people see the fine workmanship. With the tools that were available back then, doing such fine work seems almost magical! There are some books about scrimshaw, and the pictures are fabulous to see.
    Nice that there are sources of manmade “ivory” that works almost as well for carving & scrimming.
    Thanks, ever so much, for the show.

    Liked by 2 people

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