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Scrimshaw panel depicting a whale hunt and two whaling brigs

Date: 1830s
Overall: 176 x 296 x 16 mm, 0.3 kg
Medium: Pan bone
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Pan bone scrimshaw
Object No: 00005755
Related Place:Australia,

User Terms

    Two whaling brigs are depicted on this scrimshaw panel while four whale boats hunt a pod of Sperm whales. The crew of one boat has lifted its oars in preparation for a 'Nantucket Sleigh ride'. A harpooned whale can drag a boat at speeds of up to 37 kph until it is exhausted and can be lanced. This piece of scrimshaw is etched on whale pan bone, coming from the jaw bone of a whale and highly sought after by scrimshanders.
    SignificanceThis panel is an excellent example of a pan bone engraving and demonstrates the common depiction of whale hunts in scrimshaw.
    HistoryScrimshaw was originally a maritime craft that developed from the unique conditions onboard whaling ships in the early 19th century. No one knows for sure where the expression originated, but it comes from the Dutch words 'scrim' meaning to etch and 'shorn' meaning to make.

    Scrimshaw is produced by engraving, carving, inlaying or assembling bone from marine mammals, such as whale bone, teeth, baleen, walrus tusks and shell. Pan bone was a flat part of a whale’s jaw that could be cut into thin canvas like sheets, suitable for panoramic engravings. Using jackknives, saws, homemade files and sharp sail needles, sailors would etch images of women, whaling scenes or other memories from home.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Scrimshaw pan bone panel depicting a whale hunt and two whaling brigs

    Web title: Scrimshaw panel depicting a whale hunt and two whaling brigs

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