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Scrimshaw port cup

Date: 19th century
Overall: 70 x 38 x 35 mm, 0.04 kg
Medium: Sperm whale tooth
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Port cup
Object No: 00032487

User Terms

    This port cup was hand carved from a Sperm whale tooth and is slightly irregular in shape. The scrimshander has taken advantage of the hollow cavity of the tooth to create this piece. It is a simple design and features no decorative engravings. Scrimshaw artists commonly made functional domestic items sush as cups, cutlery, pie crimpers and rolling pins.
    SignificanceThis cup represents the production of functional items of scrimshaw and demonstrates how scrimshanders utilised the natural features of the material they worked with.
    HistoryAmerican scrimshaw can trace its early roots back to the 18th century whaling industry and was a craft practised by whalers with plenty of spare time on their hands.

    The average whaling expedition lasted anywhere from three to five years. This could bring about unbearable boredom and loneliness for the sailors. Whalers would fill their long hours by crafting presents for their loved ones back home. They carved designs into whale teeth and bone reflecting scenes of everyday life afloat and their memories of home.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Scrimshaw port cup

    Web title: Scrimshaw port cup

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