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Scrimshaw crochet hook

Date: 19th Century
Overall: 152 x 15 x 15 mm, 0.015 kg
Medium: Whalebone
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Desmond Liddy
Object Name: Crochet hook
Object No: 00027344

User Terms

    This crochet hook was handmade from a single piece of whalebone and features five intricately carved geometric shapes on the handle. Whalers produced a variety of functional objects to combat boredom and lonliness at sea and sewing tools were commonly made for female loved ones.
    SignificanceThis unique crochet hook demonstrates the type of decoration used in scrimshaw and the large number of sewing tools whalers made as gifts.
    HistoryCrochet was a popular pastime for women in the 19th century and involved creating lace fabric or macramé with a thread and a hooked needle. The exact origins of the craft are not certain but during the 1800’s crochet hooks were a common domestic item and a useful present for a sailor’s female loved ones.

    Scrimshaw was originally a maritime folk art that developed onboard whaling ships in the early 19th century. No one knows for sure where the term originated, but it comes from the Dutch words 'scrim' meaning to etch and 'shorn' meaning to make. The earliest written reference is in an American ship's log dated 20 May 1826. There is also a reference to 'skrim shunder articles' in Herman Melville's Moby Dick in 1851.

    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 or needles sailors would carve functional objects and pieces of art depicting images of women, whaling scenes or memories of home.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Scrimshaw crochet hook

    Web title: Scrimshaw crochet hook

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