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Scrimshawed corset busk depicting two ships

Date: 19th century
Overall: 3 x 310 x 37 mm
Display Dimensions: 309 x 41 mm, 2 mm
Medium: Whalebone and pigment.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Busk
Object No: 00001692
Place Manufactured:England

User Terms

    Busks were used to stiffen womens corsets and were often decorated with carved images. This piece has four engraved panels featuring two flags and two sailing vessels. The engravings have been filled with red and black pigments.
    SignificanceThis scrimshaw busk represents the variety of gifts sailors made during their time at sea.

    HistoryScrimshaw is a maritime folk art that developed onboard whaling vessels in the early 19th century. It involved engraving, carving, inlaying or assembling bone from marine mammals, including whale bone, teeth, baleen, walrus tusks and shell.

    The act of making a gift of scrimshaw helped sailors ease the separation from family or loved ones. For the recipient, the scrimshaw provided something useful in the daily routine of domestic life and was a decorative reminder of the sailor, who could be away for years. A corset busk was a typical gift and commonly carved from ivory, horn or wood. Busks would be inserted into the cloth pocket at the front of a woman's corset and gave her body a smooth and more rigid appearance.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Scrimshawed whalebone busk

    Primary title: Scrimshawed corset busk depicting two ships

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