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Scrimshaw walking stick with carved horse handle

Date: mid 19th Century
Overall: 870 x 70 x 20 mm, 0.32 kg
Medium: Whalebone, baleen
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Walking stick
Object No: 00032495

User Terms

    Walking sticks were fashionable accessories for men in the 19th century. This walking stick has a shaft carved from whalebone, a handle from Sperm whale tooth and is decorated with strips of baleen. It has a handle carved in the shape of a horses fetlock (leg) and was a popular design choice with scrimshanders.
    SignificanceThis walking stick represents the production of functional items of scrimshaw and demonstrates how scrimshanders combined a range of materials, including bone, teeth and baleen.
    HistoryScrimshaw is a maritime folk art tradition that developed onboard American whaling ships in the 19th century. It helped sailors deal with the isolation and loneliness of being at sea on expeditions that could last for up to five years. Scrimshaw is produced by engraving and carving material from marine animals, such as whale bone, teeth and baleen, walrus tusks and shell. Using jackknives, saws or homemade files sailors would etch images of women, whaling scenes or memories of home.

    Whalers often made functional objects like canes, needles, cutlery, cups or containers. Whale teeth and bone were the most common materials carved by scrimshanders and baleen was useful for decoration. Baleen comes from the mouth of non-toothed whales and was used by the animal to strain food from sea water.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Scrimshaw walking stick with carved horse handle

    Primary title: Scrimshaw walking stick with carved horse handle

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