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Whaler's scrimshaw pipe

Date: c 1860
Overall: 30 x 132 x 27 mm, 0.05 kg
Medium: Whale ivory, silver
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Pipe
Object No: 00018979

User Terms

    Pipes were a practical item used in the 19th century and often made by sailors onboard long whaling hunts. This pipe has been made from pieces of whale tooth, baleen and silver and has small cracks in the surface showing signs of its use. By the 1850s, pipe smoking had become an increasingly working class tradition that was less common with high society.
    SignificanceThis is representative of 19th century pipes and the production of functional scrimshaw objects.
    HistoryAmerican scrimshaw can trace its early roots back to the 18th century whaling industry. It is a craft practised by whale hunters with plenty of spare time on their hands.

    The average whaling expedition lasted anywhere from three to five years. This could bring about unbearable boredom and loneliness for the sailors. Whalers would fill their long hours by crafting presents for their loved ones back home. They carved designs into whale teeth and bone reflecting scenes of everyday life afloat and the sailor's memories of home. Scrimshaw is one of a handful of American folk arts that has maintained its presence in contemporary craft practices.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Whaler's scrimshaw pipe

    Web title: Whaler's scrimshaw pipe

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