For this month’s special artifact, I have selected one of the pieces from our scrimshaw collection. Now, I am personally not a fan of the idea of scrimshaw, but I thought it would be good to share what it is and the history behind it to our readers. I picked this particular piece because of the two women depicted.
Before discussing our object, I want to share some about the art of scrimshaw. These pieces are usually made by sailors aboard whaling ships and often depict landscapes, while many are drawings of magazine illustrations, like particular one. The oldest examples of scrimshaw are from the 1600’s and are dutch made. However, scrimshaw did not become popular until 19th century New England whalers picked up the art.