is a maritime folk art that reached its peak during the American
whaling era, which flourished in the 1800's. Creative whalers,
enduring idle and tedious hours at sea in search of the great
whale whose valuable oil lit their world, would pass their time
etching on the huge teeth of the sperm whale. The carving of
the whale's bone was also considered scrimshaw. This unique
artwork often became gifts for loved ones back home and took
many forms in addition to the familiar engraved whale's tooth,
including jewelry, game boards, pie crimpers, canes, and corset
laws have recently been passed so that whale (1973) and elephant
(1990) ivory can no longer be imported into the United States.
Modern-day scrimshaw artists (scrimshanders) work on a rapidly
diminishing supply of antique and fossilized materials.