home / Queen Charlotte

ETHNOGRAPHY : AUSTRALASIA

Title

Queen Charlotte

Object Name

SCRIMSHAW TOOTH with royal portrait

Date Made

18th Century - late / 19th Century - early
18th Century - late / 19th Century - early

Place Made

Australia
Australia

Description

This is one of a pair of sperm whale scrimshaw teeth showing a full-length royal portrait of Queen Charlotte (wife of George III). If the portraits are contemporary with George III these would be of very early date for sperm whale scrimshaw. On the reverse of Charlotte’s portrait is a drawing of one man kneeling in front of another, who stands beside a tree with the inscription He threw himself on the earth and cryed forgive me forgive me O my father. Such Biblical references are unusual. Scrimshaw was a favourite pastime of British and American Whalers. The man who did such carvings was called a scrimshander. Some practitioners signed their work with their initials. The design was usually inscribed with a sail needle and then darkened by rubbing in a mixture of oil and lampblack. The teeth and jawbones of the sperm whale were the most common material but walrus and narwhal tusk, porpoise jaws and baleen from the mouth of the bowhead, right, humpack and grey whales were also used.

Catalogue Number

BELUM.C5014.A

Copyright

National Museums NI