Scrimshawed whale's tooth

about 1816
Unidentified artist, American, 19th century, Derived from Abel Bowen (American, 1790–1850)

Object Place: United States


8.8 x 18.6 x 4.6 cm (3 7/16 x 7 5/16 x 1 13/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Engraved sperm whale tooth

On View

George Putnam Model Ship Gallery (Gallery LG28)




Mixed media

Sperm whale tooth with an engraving on each side. Obverse is a scene of the engagement between two vessels during the War of 1812, possibly the Constitution and Guerrière after a Michel Felice Corné illustration in Abel Bowen’s publication, The Naval Monument (Boston, 1816).

Reverse is of the figure of the Greek goddess Diana holding an arrow in her right hand, and a bow in her left hand. A dog runs by her left side; its spots are not original to the engraving.


No inscriptions.


Purchased by the donor in November or December 1945 at an antique or curio shop in Kobe or Deshima, Japan.

Credit Line

Gift of Cornelius C. Vermeule III