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King George III

Object Name


Date Made

late 18th / early 19th century
late 18th / early 19th century

Place Made



This is one of a pair of whale scrimshaw teeth showing a have full-length portrait of George III (1760 – 1820) holding a crown and sceptre. The illustration of the King seems to be based on a print by Metz after Heath dated 15 Marth 1783, which was published by J. Cooke in Raymond’s History of England. If the portraits are contemporary with George III these would be of very early date for sperm whale scrimshaw. On the reverse side of George’s portrait is a drawing of a man gazing at a woman lying on her side, holding a baby, with the inscription I found her pale and without strength at the side of the spring and Cain my first born lying on her bosom. 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



National Museums NI