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Corn knife with steel blade and polished whale tooth handle

Date: 19th century
Overall: 8 x 147 x 18 mm
Medium: Steel, whale tooth
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Scrimshaw
Object No: 00006614

User Terms

    A corn knife with steel 'spear point' blade and polished whale tooth handle.
    SignificanceSimple every day, functional objects were also made by whalers for their own use using the by-products of the whale oil industry. Whale tooth was a strong and economical option for whalers to replace wood and in some cases, metal.
    HistoryWhaling played an essential part in 19th century life. Industry and households depended on whale products for which there was no substitute. Whale oil was used for lighting and lubrication until 1860 when kerosene and petroleum started to gain popularity. The pure clean oil from sperm whales was a superior source of lighting and the finest candles were made from the whale's wax-like spermaceti. The oil was also used in the manufacture of hundreds of commodities, most notably soap and margarine. Light and flexible, baleen - the bristle-fringed plates found in the jaws of baleen whales - had many uses in objects which today would be made out of plastic.
    Additional Titles

    Collection title: Tilbrook collection

    Assigned title: Corn knife with steel blade and polished whale tooth handle

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