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Cribbage board carved from walrus tusk

Date: 19th century
Overall: 45 x 310 x 21 mm, 0.3 kg
Medium: Walrus tusk, ink
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Scrimshaw walrus tusk
Object No: 00032485

User Terms

    This cribbage board was carved from a walrus tusk. It is engraved and pierced with the elements of the game of cribbage and is decorated with images of sea mammals - a walrus and a seal on an ice floe on top, and a seal and spouting whale on the underside. Walrus ivory was often used by whalers working in the Arctic waters of the North Pacific Ocean. They obtained the material through trade with the Inuit people of North America. This piece of scrimshaw helped its maker pass the long hours at sea, carving ivory and playing cribbage.
    SignificanceThe board is representative of the variety of functional scrimshaw objects produced by seamen in whaling ships, and of the way walrus tusk was used for this purpose.
    HistoryScrimshaw was originally a maritime craft that developed from the unique conditions encountered on whaling ships in the early 19th century. It is produced by engraving, carving, inlaying or assembling bone from marine mammals, such as sperm whale jawbones and teeth, walrus tusks, porpoise and dolphin jaws, and baleen, usually for inlays. Using jackknives, saws, homemade files or sharp sail needles, seamen would would etch on the bone images of women, whaling scenes or other memories from home.

    Cribbage is usually played by two people and is a gambling card game. A cribbage board has a number of small holes that are filled with pegs as a system of scorekeeping. The game was commonly played by seamen on ships.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Cribbage board carved from walrus tusk

    Web title: Cribbage board carved from walrus tusk

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