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Scrimshaw seal with lion emblem

Date: 19th Century
Overall: 31 x 24 x 24 mm, 0.05 kg
Medium: Whalebone, bronze
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Desmond Liddy
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Seal
Object No: 00027350

User Terms

    This seal features a lion emblem and was made from whalebone and bronze. Seals were commonly used to stamp documents as a mark of prestige or to identify a person, group or organisation. Whale bone, teeth and baleen were by-products of the booming 19th century whaling industry and sailors commonly made them into a range of functional scrimshaw items to pass the time at sea.
    SignificanceThis seal represents the use of whalebone in a variety of 19th century functional items, including sewing equipment, cooking utensils, walking sticks, pipes, and whistles.
    HistoryScrimshaw 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

    Web title: Scrimshaw seal with lion emblem

    Primary title: Scrimshaw seal with lion emblem

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