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Scrimshaw crochet hook

Date: 19th century
Overall: 3 x 112 mm, 3 mm
Medium: Whalebone
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Crochet hook
Object No: 00001381

User Terms

    This plain crochet hook was carved from whale bone and features a simple decoration of three engraved bands. Whalers used small pieces of whale bone to create functional items such as needles, tools, cutlery or cases. Known as scrimshaw, the folk art tradition developed onboard whaling ships as a pastime for sailors. Often the pieces of scrimshaw were later given as gifts to loved ones.
    SignificanceThis crochet hook represents the production of small sewing tools as functional scrimshaw gifts in the 19th century.
    HistoryCrochet, knitting and needle work were popular pastimes for women in the 19th century. The exact origins of the craft are uncertain but during the 1800’s crochet lace and hooks were a common item in domestic households. Crochet involves creating lace or macramé by making small gathered loops with a thread and hooked needle.

    Sailors made a wide range of items relating to domestic sewing including needles, bobbins, fids, crochet hooks and needle cases. These items were useful and popular presents for female loved ones at home. Scrimshaw involved sailors using jackknives, saws, homemade files or needles to carve functional objects and pieces of art depicting images of women, whaling scenes or memories of home.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Scrimshaw crochet hook

    Web title: Scrimshaw crochet hook

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