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Carved model of harpoon gun, made around 1955, held in the Scottish Fisheries Museum

Objects held by Kirkcaldy Museum

Bone Carvings

The whale men spent many months at sea. This meant that they had much free time. Arctic whalers often spent their free time carving objects out of whalebone. The southern whalers carved pictures on the teeth of sperm whales. This bone carving was known as scrimshaw.

There are many examples of this scrimshaw work in museums across Scotland. Montrose Museum holds a sperm whale tooth.

While whalers in the north hunted baleen whales, which had no teeth, those in the south hunted the toothed sperm whales.

Carvings were not just made from whale bone. Kirkcaldy Museum holds a variety of objects. There are two large tusks, possibly from a walrus, There is also a pendant carved with the form of a polar bear.

The Scottish Fisheries Museum hold a number of examples including a sperm whale tooth and two egg cups.

Carved sperm whale tooth, held by Montrose Museum   Carved sperm whale tooth from around 1800, held in the Scottish Fisheries Museum   Egg cup made from sperm whale tooth, made around 1935, held in the Scottish Fisheries Museum

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