Search the Collection
Advanced Search

Narwhal tusk silver capped walking stick

Date: mid 19th Century
Overall: 920 x 35 x 35 mm, 0.66 kg
Medium: Narwhal tusk, metal
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Walking stick
Object No: 00032493

User Terms

    Walking sticks were fashionable accessories for men in the mid-19th century and common items made by scrimshanders. This stick was craved from Narwhal ivory and is capped with a silver top. The scrimshander has taken advantage of the natural twist of the Narwhal tusk in the design. Whalers working in the Arctic waters of the Pacific Ocean often reffered to the Narwhal as the unicorn of the sea and obtained their tusks through trade with the indigenous Inuit.
    SignificanceThis is a rare example of a Narwhal walking stick. The animal was nearly hunted to extinction because of its unique tusk.

    HistoryScrimshaw is a maritime folk art tradition that developed onboard whaling vessels in the early 19th century. 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 would etch images of women, whaling scenes or other memories of home.

    Whalers often made utilitarian objects like canes, needles, cutlery, cups or containers in the 19th century. Walking sticks were a useful everyday item and the variety of styles, combination of materials and intricate carvings scrimshanders used illustrate their creativity.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Narwhal tusk silver capped walking stick

    Primary title: Narwhal tusk silver capped walking stick

    Discuss this Object


    Please log in to add a comment.