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HECTOR of New Bedford scrimshaw

Date: 19th century
Overall: 160 x 395 x 40 mm, 1.2 kg
Medium: Ink on hippopotamus tusk
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Scrimshaw hippopotamus tusk
Object No: 00033568
Place Manufactured:United States

User Terms

    This Hippopotamus tusk is elaborately engraved with seven images including a depiction of the ship HECTOR, an eagle and a whaling crew working on a harpooned whale. The scrimshander has used multiple colours of red, blue and green to decorate the piece, which is uncommon in scrimshaw. The use of these numerous coloured pigments and the Hippopotamus material has led experts to question the authenticity of this piece.
    SignificanceThis tusk represents a very detailed engraving on a material rarely used in scrimshaw.
    HistoryA scrimshammer is someone who produces forgeries of scrimshaw on authentic materials. The word is made up from 'scrim' meaning 'to etch' and 'sham' meaning 'fake'. These can be new pieces copied from old originals or new pieces created to look like old scrimshaw. Often these pieces can be identified through tell-tale signs attributed to poor research, such as combining the lettering style of one period with an image of another period. In other cases the new pieces are simply 'too good to be true'.

    More recently there has been an increase in the production of 'fakeshaw', tooth-shape replicas manufactured from modern synthetic materials. These are usually easily identified by the differences in weight and texture between a real tooth and the fake. Reliable manufacturers will cast the word 'replica' somewhere on the piece and many museums co-operate with manufacturers so people can enjoy accurate reproductions of objects.

    HECTOR was a whaling ship built in New York, in 1818 and operated out of the American whaling settlement of New Bedford between 1826 and 1866. In 1866, HECTOR was burnt and destroyed by Confederate troops during the American Civil War.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: HECTOR of New Bedford scrimshaw

    Web title: HECTOR of New Bedford scrimshaw

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