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HOME : Decorative Arts : Miscellaneous : Scrimshaw Ivory
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Scrimshaw Ivory - kg.1
Origin: New England
Circa: 19 th Century AD
Dimensions: 9" (22.9cm) high x 3" (7.6cm) wide
Condition: Very Fine

Location: Great Britain
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This is an extremely refined and elaborate example of Scrimshaw. Scrimshaw is the name given to scrollwork, engravings, and carvings done in bone or ivory. Typically it refers to the handiwork created by whalers made from the byproducts of harvesting marine mammals. It is most commonly made out of the bones and teeth of sperm whales, the baleen of other whales, and the tusks of walruses. It takes the form of elaborate engravings in the form of pictures and lettering on the surface of the bone or tooth, with the engraving highlighted using a pigment, or, less often, small sculptures made from the same material. However the latter really fall into the categories of ivory carving, for all carved teeth and tusks, or bone carving. The making of scrimshaw began on whaling ships between 1745 to 1759 on the Pacific Ocean, and survived until the ban on commercial whaling. The practice survives as a hobby and as a trade for commercial artisans. On one of the two sides of the object, it has been depicted a woman lifting the drapery of her clothing, in a very natural gesture. On the reverse side, the artist depicted an erotic scene. The rarity of this piece is due to the rich polychromy employed in the rendering of the clothing, on both sides of the scrimshaw. Besides the aesthetic interest of such a lively use of colour, the piece also represents an important and accurate documentation of the fashion habits of the period. - (kg.1)


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