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Scrimshaw pie crimper

Date: 19th Century
Overall: 162 x 43 x 20 mm, 0.06 kg
Medium: Sperm whale tooth
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Pie crimper
Object No: 00032484

User Terms

    This pie crimper was carved from a Sperm whale tooth and features a handle decorated with love hearts and circles. These were popular items made by scrimshanders to pass the long hours at sea and were commonly given as gifts. They come in a great variety of creative designs and were produced in the thousands.
    SignificanceThis piece represents the prolific number of pie crimpers produced by whalers as gifts for loved ones in the 19th century.
    HistoryScrimshaw was originally a maritime craft that developed from the unique conditions onboard whaling ships in the early 19th century. No one knows for sure where the word originated, but it comes from the Dutch words 'scrim' meaning to etch and 'shorn' meaning to make. The earliest written reference is in an American ship's log dated 20 May 1826. There is also a reference to 'skrim shunder articles' in Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick in 1851.

    Scrimshaw is produced by engraving, carving, inlaying or assembling bone from marine mammals, such as whale bone, teeth and baleen, walrus tusks and shell. Using jackknives, saws, homemade files and sharp sail needles, sailors etched images of women, whaling scenes or other memories of home.

    Making scrimshaw gifts helped a sailor ease the separation from family or loved ones. For the recipient, it provided something useful in the daily routine of domestic life and was a decorative reminder of the sailor.

    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Scrimshaw pie crimper

    Web title: Scrimshaw pie crimper

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