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Scrimshaw shoehorn

Date: 19th century
Overall: 5 x 160 x 29 mm, 0.05 kg
Display Dimensions: 160 x 34 x 16 mm
Medium: Whalebone
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Desmond Liddy
Object Name: Shoehorn
Object No: 00027334

User Terms

    This is a good example of the commercial use of whalebone pre-plastic. This shoe horn was handmade using a piece of whalebone and has a thick plaited handle. Shoe horns were used to open up the shoe and provided a smooth surface for the foot and heel to move.
    SignificanceThis shoehorn represents the 19th century production of functional items of scrimshaw. Although scrimshaw was usually made by sailors for recreational purposes, this unique piece was commercially manufactured.
    HistoryScrimshaw can trace its roots back to America's early whaling industry in 19th century. The craft was practiced by whale hunters who had plenty of spare time on their hands and is today one of a handful of folk art traditions that maintains a presence in contemporary craft practices.

    Scrimshaw is produced by engraving, carving, inlaying or assembling bone from marine mammals, including whale bone, teeth and baleen, walrus tusks and shell. Using jackknives, saws, homemade files and needles sailors would create functional everyday objects or artistic pieces etched with images of women, whaling scenes or memories of home. It is often difficult to determine exactly who and for what purpose some scrimshaw pieces were made and the majority of objects cannot be attributed to a particular artist.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Scrimshaw shoehorn

    Primary title: SHOEHORN, 19th CENTURY.

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