This object is eligible for a Certificate of BADA Provenance

A Sailor’s Scrimshaw Work Whalebone Walking Cane with Carved Sperm Whale Tooth Handle Inlaid with a Tortoiseshell and Mother-of-Pearl Star 
Superb colour and patina 

Mid 19th Century 


86cm high - 34 ins high 

Ex Private UK collection 

Scrimshaw rescued the whale man from despondency and kept his mind and hands occupied. One journal (Barbeau) states: ‘I am unsettled in mind for want of work. Saw nothing, and work all dun. An idle head is a workshop for the devil. Employed scrimshaw’. The Captain of the bark, John.A.Robb, wrote in 1861: ‘Today, I feel the best that I have for the last 8 months. Commenced Squimshoning, the first I have done for the last 6 months’. In addition to the problems of boredom and despair that were the result of a three or four year voyage, there was the antagonism and anger that arose among men who were thrown together under such difficult circumstances for long periods of time. Ships logs and journals are filled with comments such as: ‘After quarrelling a half hour we commenced mending the sail.... Thus ends another long disagreeable day’. 


86cm high
By appointment only