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Scrimshaw bookbinder's tool

Date: 19th century
Overall: 200 x 22 mm, 4 mm, 0.05 kg
Display Dimensions: 200 x 22 mm, 4 mm
Medium: Whalebone
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Desmond Liddy
Object Name: Tool
Object No: 00027336

User Terms

    This bookbinder's tool made from whalebone was used for creasing and flattening paper folds. The whale bone was a good material for the purpose because it could be polished to a smooth finish.
    SignificanceThis bookbinder's tool 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

    Primary title: BOOKBINDER'S TOOL, 19th CENTURY.

    Web title: Scrimshaw bookbinder's tool

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