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New Bedford Whaling Museum

What’s scrimshaw? It’s scratched decorations on ivory or bone highlighted in black (soot) or brown (tobacco juice) typically made by sailors while at sea to pass the time. What kind of ivory? Any number of types: sperm whale teeth, elephant ivory, hippo or boar teeth, walrus and narwhal tusks, fossilized mammoth and mastodon tusks or bone, etc. It really depended on where the sailing vessel traveled and what was readily available at the time. So what did the sailors do with the scrimshaw? Sometimes they sold it to raise a bit of money for funding their private port escapades or to send home, but the most interesting examples were dedicated to their sweethearts waiting for them at home. Find out more at the New Bedford Massachusettes Whaling Museum next month. For the details – click.