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HOME : Decorative Arts : Miscellaneous : Scrimshaw ivory
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Scrimshaw ivory - kg.13
Origin: New England
Circa: 1800 BC to 1900 AD
Dimensions: 4.5" (11.4cm) high x 2.5" (6.4cm) wide

Additional Information: F.
Location: Great Britain
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Scrimshaw is the name given to scrollwork, engravings, and carvings done in bone or ivory. The word Scrimshaw was probably derived from a Dutch or English nautical slang expression meaning “to waste time.” 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. This is a very refined ivory container, probably a perfume-holder. The rectangular shape has been rendered in a very clean and neat way. In the front of the object we can observe a small button, in perfect condition and function, securing the opening and the closure of this elegant little box. On the reverse side of the cover, two feminine figures have been depicted, surprised in a scene of en plein air relaxation. The two feminine figures are naked, lying down one next to the other, the bodies have been carved in a very sensuous and delicate way. - (kg.13)


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