Scrimshaw Designs


About Scrimshaw

        Scrimshaw 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 busks.

        Protective 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.












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