Nautical enthusiasts love scrimshaw. It is a beautiful way to capture a love for the sea that goes beyond a mere photo by telling a story. Sailors in the 1800s made scrimshaw art to bide their time at sea while simultaneously documenting their adventures away from home.
Modern scrimshaw is under more strict regulations and is more often created by artists as opposed to sailors. With increases in technology, the ways to capture memories and entertain oneself at sea have exponentially increased. However, the lure of the ocean and the beauty it holds is still strong and is immortalized in the art of scrimshaw.
What Is Scrimshaw?
Scrimshaw is decorative engravings or carvings filled with black ink, done in bone, teeth, or ivory. It was an art form originally developed by whalers and sailors while away at sea.
One modern variation on scrimshaw is referred to as "scrimshaw-style" and should always be designated as such. Scrimshaw-style is when an artist takes their unique scrimshaw designs and hand-casts them in resin instead of bone or ivory, making them scrimshaw-inspired art and not authentic scrimshaw. Scrimshaw-style allows the beauty of scrimshaw to be more widely available at a lower price point.
How To Know If Your Scrimshaw Piece is Real
Unless noted as scrimshaw-style, Whaler’s Locker only sells genuine and authentic scrimshaw pieces. However, there is a quick test you can perform to verify if your other scrimshaw gifts are real or fake. The hot pin test is a full-proof way to determine the authenticity of your scrimshaw.
You can perform the test by heating a pin until it is red hot and then touching it to the ivory. (It is best to do this in a not very prominent place.) Real ivory will be scorched by a hot pin, turn black, and smell of bone. If you smell plastic or the surface is melted by the hot pin, you know it is not authentic scrimshaw.
Scrimshaw Gift Ideas
Scrimshaw gifts are perfect for anyone that loves being on the water, in the water, or near the water. While traveling is not always an option, commemorating a trip or an admiration for the ocean is. Scrimshaw gifts are a way to share the love for the sea or beach with friends and family in a stylish and practical way.
Scrimshaw gifts are perfect for any and all occasions, including:
- Mother’s and Father's Day
- Trip commemoration
The best part about giving a scrimshaw gift is that the receiver will instantly be able to notice the high-quality and unique nature of the gift. Gifts from chain stores can be great, but truly unique, thoughtful gifts are priceless.
5 Favorite Scrimshaw Gifts to Give and Receive
- Scrimshaw letter opener
- Scrimshaw magnifying glass
- Scrimshaw lighter
- Scrimshaw-style wine accessories
- Scrimshaw-style compass
Scrimshaw Letter Openers
Letter openers are timeless, making them ideal scrimshaw gifts. As much as our world attempts to go digital, snail mail is still very prevalent. Whether you receive paper bills or enjoy exchanging cards and gifts with friends across the country, letter openers are a fun and easy way to improve the letter-opening process.
Scrimshaw letter openers come in two beautiful styles, perfect for any home or office:
Scrimshaw Magnifying Glass
The perfect scrimshaw gift for the person who has everything, including a strong work ethic, is a magnifying glass. Of course, a magnifying glass serves a purpose, but it is also the quintessential décor for anyone who takes decorating their home or office seriously.
Mid-century modern design made a comeback and is still going strong. Adding a touch of nostalgia is a great way to add character to any room. The beautiful wood handle, hand-carved design, and gold accents make it easy to understand why this scrimshaw magnifying glass is so popular.
Scrimshaw Zippo Lighter
Zippo, an American institution since the 1930s. The only thing that could make a Zippo lighter better is a hand-carved scrimshaw design. Reusable metal lighters with bone scale scrimshaw engravings by Maui artist Doug Fine make great scrimshaw gifts.
Scrimshaw Lighter Designs
- Humpback whale
- Ship with compass
Scrimshaw-style Zippo lighters are also available and come in 13 different styles. Linda Layden hand-casted her unique designs onto Zippo brand lighters to create excellent scrimshaw gifts.
Scrimshaw-Style Wine Accessories
Girl’s night can’t begin until the wine has been opened. Which makes this scrimshaw-style wine opener the ideal hostess gift. It also plays an essential role in an at-home date night or when you want to curl up with a good book.
Linda Layden produces some of the most beautiful scrimshaw hand-carved designs. By hand-casting her creations into resin, her artwork can be experienced by many more people across the globe.
What is a wine opener without a coordinating scrimshaw-style wine stopper? It is crucial to re-cork wine because once it is opened, it begins to oxidize. Too much exposure to oxygen can negatively impact the flavor.
Whether you are saving the bottle for the next night, or there is time in-between pours, remember to keep the bottle sealed for maximum flavor preservation. With six unique wine stopper designs, they make the perfect gifts for your friend group or your own scrimshaw collection.
Scrimshaw-Style Compass and Paperweight
Linda Layden does not disappoint when it comes to hand-casting her original scrimshaw designs. The scrimshaw-style compass and paperweight in one is no exception. This scrimshaw-style gift comes in three unique designs, each special and beautiful in its own way:
3 Scrimshaw-Style Compass Designs
- Tall ships
Life is about the journey, and a scrimshaw compass is a delightful way to keep travel at the forefront of your mind. A compass is great, whether you just got home from vacation, are planning your next trip, or love reminiscing on past excursions. Having a navigational tool on display will keep your mind and heart ready for adventure.
Scrimshaw Makes the Perfect Gift
The art and talent involved in creating scrimshaw are unmatched. The history behind scrimshaw makes it even more beautiful. Gifting scrimshaw to those you love is a personalized and charming way to show someone that you care about them.