Built with WHAT??! Bones, Hair, and Prisoners: Model Ships of War

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This is an image from The Dance of Death by Hans Holbein the Younger, dated 1538. Public Domain

Model ships made of bone. On this Halloween Eve, that’s a strange and sort of mysterious idea. It might seem even a little bit creepy to think about.

Who would think to use discarded bones to create something as beautiful as a model ship?    Read more

Fabulous Scrimshaw

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After quite an absence from the blog, I am back and will hopefully be able to keep up.  It’s been a busy fall season for us and is unlikely to let up anytime soon, but it’s definitely time to highlight some more of our beautiful artifacts.  One piece I came across the other day while looking up Cape Horn is an intricate scrimshaw clock holder.

It was made by a Charles B. Tobey in Cape Horn, 1819; markings which clearly be seen on the back of the piece.  The imagery on the front top shows two women, one holding a cross, the other holding an anchor and another woman with three children.  At the bottom is a man and woman holding hands under a tree.   Read more

Way Back Wednesdays

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June 1934, objects on table in main room, scrimshaw display

In our early days, we often simply placed objects all over tables to show off as much of the collection as possible.  Of course this left them easily exposed to damage and theft, so we no longer display them like this, but it still looks neat.  This image is from 1934 and features a small portion of our scrimshaw collection.  The finest piece is that large panbone next to the paddle from 1857/1858 depicting the Civic Heroes of the American Revolution and the Washington Monument at Richmond.  It was made by Nathaniel Sylvester Finney, a veteran whaleman.

I believe I have posted other photographs before of our International Antarctic Exhibition before, but this one (from Jan. 23, 1963) shows Admiral Dufek being interviewed by Channel 13.   Read more

Object of the Month- Fashion Scrimsaw

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Fashion Scrimshaw tooth.
Fashion Scrimshaw tooth.

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.   Read more