Gosh I haven’t updated in a bit. These past few weeks have been crazier than Right Whale mating season. But here’s a Scrimshaw Thursday update (there’s been a lot of great stuff I haven’t uploaded, unfortunately). Hopefully you’ll find this stuff as neat as I do.
The above tooth has Garneray’s Pêche de la Baliene carved into it. Garneray’s prints are not only awesome in their own right, but also because Melville describes this very picture in chapter 56 of Moby Dick, “Of the Less Erroneous Pictures of Whales, and the True Pictures of Whaling Scenes”:
In the second engraving, the boat is in the act of drawing alongside the barnacled flank of a large running Right Whale, that rolls his back weedy bulk in the sea like some mossy rock-slide from the Patagonian cliffs. His jets are erect, full, and black like soot; so that from so abounding a smoke in the chimney, you would think there must be a brave supper cooking in the great bowels below. Sea fowls are pecking at the small crabs, shellfish, and other sea candies and maccaroni, which the Right Whale sometimes carries on his pestilent back. And all the while the thick-lipped leviathan is rushing through the deep, leaving tons fo tumultuous white curds in his wake, and causing the slight boat to rock in the swells like a skiff caught nigh the paddle-wheels of an ocean steamer. Thus, the foreground is all raging commotion; but behind, in admirable artistic contrast, is the glassy level of a sea becalmed, the drooping unstarched sails of the powerless ship, and the inert mass of a dead whale, a conquered fortress, with the flag of capture lazily hanging from the whale-pole inserted into his spout-hole.
(Ambroise Louis Garneray, Pêche de la Baliene, 1835
Photo courtesy of the the New Bedford Whaling Museum.)
I thought this thing was neat. It’s a stamp, though we’re not sure what the purple ball is supposed to be. Maybe an ink blotter.
When writing logbooks for whaling voyages, whalers would use these stamps to indicate when they had caught a whale, and then write the specifications next to the stamp. Stamps are often forged, but with a collection of 2500 logbooks here at the museum, we could (theoretically, given an intern and a lot of time) check to see if any of the stamps match up. Interestingly enough, this one seems to have an Orca on it.
Here is the painted Alaskan whale rib, followed by a bunch of closeups of my favorite drawings on it.
Election day is tomorrow! Make sure to have a beer for Obama, and the future of our country.