Are you looking for unique gifts for your loved ones but can’t seem to find something special enough? Look no further than Whaler's Locker! We're pleased to have a collection of artifacts, jewelry, and other unique gifts available both online and in-person at our Maui location.
Some of our favorite, meticulously crafted pieces are our scrimshaw products. Much like the Hawaiian Islands, scrimshaw has a rich history that is too interesting to not share with you. Getting your hands on a piece of scrimshaw art yourself is any collector’s dream. From jewelry to letter openers, we’ve got unique scrimshaw gifts for just about anyone!
What is Scrimshaw?
The word scrimshaw typically refers to the art of decorating various objects, including bone, ivory, walrus tusks, or other materials in unique designs. However, that was back when whaling was a popular and legal activity in the mid-1800s. These days, scrimshaw artwork is present on materials like deer antlers and other ethically sourced bones.
Scrimshaw: An Ancient Art
The ivory teeth from sperm whales seem to be the most popular material for scrimshanders to create their works of art on, because they were both plentiful at that time and easy to stow away when they weren’t working. Did you know that often whaling voyages could take up to five years? For this reason, sailors hailing from New England had to find something to occupy their downtime. That's where scrimshaw came in!
These whaling voyages originated off the coast of New England around 1745 and used whatever whale byproducts they could find to create intricate works of art. Using bones, teeth, or baleen, these sailors honed their scrimshaw craft over the years, and created works that were inspired by their journey or that depicted loved ones they left back home.
The origins of art similar to scrimshaw are said to originate not just from these sailors, but also from Native American Eskimos as early as 100 to 200 AD. Artifacts from the Eskimos feature more than only artwork on whale bones, however. They often used the bones of whales and other animals to create many of their tools for survival, from utensils to needles and even bone armor.
Later, after being inspired by earlier works of art, sailors from New England spent their long whaling voyages refining the technique of scrimshaw, making it look like the detailed, meticulous artwork we know and love today.
Five Unique Scrimshaw Finds
Here at Whaler’s Locker, we’re proud to offer a collection of unique gifts featuring beautiful scrimshaw artwork. From pocket knives to jewelry to magnifying glasses, we’ve got a little something for anyone who loves scrimshaw!
- Scrimshaw pocket knives
- Scrimshaw fish hook necklaces
- Scrimshaw letter openers
- Scrimshaw Damascus knives
- Scrimshaw magnifying glasses
Scrimshaw Pocket Knives
This beautifully carved bone handle features the iconic whale tail of the islands. Whether you have fond memories of the whale watching trip you took in Maui or you want to pay homage to the ancient art of scrimshaw, this lock back pocket knife is a keeper!
Scrimshaw Fish Hook Necklaces
Combining two iconic arts — scrimshaw and Maui fish hooks — this fish hook necklace features original scrimshaw artwork carved by local Maui artist David Haake. Handcrafted and carved from deer antler, this piece of jewelry is certainly worth showing off. Whether you're an avid fisherman or just a lover of the Hawaiian Islands, this piece makes an exciting addition with an interesting story as well.
Scrimshaw Letter Openers
A statement piece for any desk or office, this handmade scrimshaw letter opener features custom artwork from local Maui artist Doug Fine. You can't go wrong with any of the featured designs, whether you choose the ship and whale tail, humpback whale, ship, or turtle. This piece will catch the eye of anyone who sees it! This letter opener is the kind of unique gift that you can treasure and use daily for years to come.
Scrimshaw Damascus Knives
Did you know that high-quality Damascus steel is the same steel that was used during the 13th century to form Persian swords, known for their distinctive teardrop patterns? Damascus steel is also known for being a sturdy metal, resistant to shattering, and with a sharp edge. This amazing scrimshaw fixed blade knife comes with a brown leather sheath and a smooth bone handle featuring custom scrimshaw artwork.
Scrimshaw Magnifying Glass
Another Doug Fine piece, this beautiful handmade wood, and bone inlay magnifying glass would make the perfect gift for someone special in your life. With a few scrimshaw options to choose from, you can customize this gift for whoever is on your list! The attention to detail on these designs will truly wow you and everyone else that sees this beautiful piece in person.
Caring for Your Scrimshaw Pieces
Scrimshaw art and collectibles are gifts often appreciated by the recipient because of the care needed to choose the perfect design and item. For instance, a whale tail for those that love whale watching while on the islands! However, they also need to be well cared for to extend their life, so you can continue to enjoy them for years to come.
How do you keep your scrimshaw pieces looking pristine? That’s pretty easy! We have a few tips for anyone with a scrimshaw gift that they want to keep looking as beautiful as the day they received it.
- Ivory pieces should be cared for with unscented baby oil if they begin to look dry
- Once the baby oil has soaked in, sealing the surface can be accomplished with clear paste wax or a high-end car wax
- Pieces made from bone should only come in contact with clear, light mineral oils because of their porous and fibrous nature
Unique Gifts Straight from Maui
At Whaler’s Locker, we pride ourselves on carrying unique gifts that remind you of our beautiful island, whether you’ve visited once or a handful of times! From impressive Megalodon teeth, beautiful Baltic Amber jewelry, and handcrafted scrimshaw pieces, we’ve got unique gifts for you and all the people you love. Check out our website today for even more of our collections of unique gifts straight from Maui.