Decorated sperm whale tooth with beached sperm whale
Sperm Whale Tooth - Scrimshaw
KINCM:2005.2304, Hull Maritime Museum

Like the prints earlier in the exhibition, which this is evidently indebted to, this decorated sperm whale tooth shows the body of a beached sperm whale with a number of men flensing its body. It is inscribed beneath the image: “The Mysticetus or common whale”, suggesting also a relationship to contemporary natural history images, such as those in Beale’s Natural History of the Sperm Whale (1839). The image on the tooth is taken from a Dutch print of a beached whale, first published in 1598, most likely copied from a later reproduction as it reverses the original. While both the engraving and tooth employ a relief carving technique, here the materiality of dead whale bone offers a macabre yet clear link to the dead whale subject. 

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Credit: Images are courtesy of the Hull Maritime Museum