Information

Extremely rare and important scrimshaw whales tooth referred to as the "Map Tooth". The obverse of the tooth is map is delicately engraved with or chart depicting New Bedford harbor, Buzzards Bay and the Elizabeth Islands. The named locations which are engraved on the tooth include New Bedford,Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Nashawena and Penikese. At an outer point of land between New Bedford and Dartmouth is a depiction of an illuminated lighthouse. Another illumunated lighthouse is shown at he Northern tip of Cutty Hunk. Depicted at the center of the tooth is a whaling ship returning to port, showing its plotted course. The are a few plotted courses shown on the tooth with broken lines with directions such as NNE and NE by N for example.The reverse shows a very active whaling scene with whales, whale boats including a "stove" boat with whalemen being tossed in the air. The mother ship is clearly engraved on the far left and is flying a house flag with the intials NYS on the fore mast. There is some red polychrome detail in the blood spewing amongst the pod of whales on the right. (SC1067)
Condition: The tooth is in excellent condition and has a deep mellow patina.
Provenance: The inside of the tooth bears the white ink identification "NH 350" indicating it was from the collection of Meylert Armstong probably the preimenent collector of scrimshaw between 1920-1950s. Armstong marked all of the items in his collection with the NH followed by numbers in white ink. Armstong sold his collection to Norman Flayderman which formed the basis for Flayderman Collection and represented as much as 70% of the items published in his book "Scrimshaw and Scrimshanders". Page 175 shows three seven wheel crimpers and the one on the left shows an example of the white ink  code "NH 250" which appears near the bottom of the illustration just above the wheel.  Flayderman purchased the collection from Armstrong in New Hope , PA which is the source for the intial code "NH" derived from New Hope. This information was provided by the scrimshaw authority John Rinaldi.
Dimension: Length 7 1/2 inches.
Reference 1: "Scrimshaw and Scrimshanders: Whales and Whalemen", E. Norman Flayderman, New Milford CT, 1972. The obverse featuring the chart is illustrated on page 2 and the whaling scene is on page 60. 
Reference 2: "Ingenious Contrivances Curiously Carved: Scrimshaw In The New Bedford Whaling Museum", By Stuart Frank, published by David R. Godine Boston, 2012 page 85. Another tooth showing a map of New Bedford and Buzzards Bay illustrated on page  85, plate 6.24b.
Note: A primitive tooth attributed to the "Pagoda Artist" has an engraved scene with a primitive map.