Monday, September 29, 2014

Scrimshaw crimpers

"Seeing his appendage, I held out my ivory arm, and he his ivory leg, and it was as good a handshake between comrades as flesh itself ever pressed," recounts the one-armed Captain Boomer upon meeting the one-legget Captain Ahab in the historical novel I am reading, which is based on the classic Moby Dick. I wondered whether maimed whalers ever did carve prosthetic limbs from the bones of their prey. But a web search and an image search indicated that this idea is fictional. Instead, I found that 19th c. American whalemen spent their idle hours carving a myriad of pie crimpers to present to their mothers, wives, and sweethearts after their long sea voyages. As the examples above from the New Bedford Whaling Museum show, they are as fancy as the designs and edgings on the pies they were used to create. Scrimshaw crimpers. Say that 5 times real fast!

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