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Proceedings Paper

Determination of authenticity of engraved scrimshaw
Author(s): Donald E. Ridley
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Paper Abstract

Scrimshaw is an occupational art form originated by, or indigenous to, whalemen, utilizing the hard by-products of the whale fishery, ivory, bone and baleen, in some cases combined with other found material. It is comprised of three types: 1) decorative, e.g. engraved or carved teeth or tusks; 2) utilitarian, e.g. tools and tool handles, and 3) a combination of these, e.g. busks, swifts an dippers. This paper is concerned with engraved scrimshaw, principally decorative, and in particular, determination of authenticity. The value of scrimshaw in general, and engraved scrimshaw in particular, has increased markedly in the last quarter century, encouraging forgery, thus making verification of authenticity of increasing importance. Two of the pioneers in the field of scientific detection of forgery of scrimshaw, or scrimshaw forensics, are Dr. Janet West of the Scott Polar Institute, Cambridge University, and Desmund T. Liddy of Australia. It is on their work that our project at the Kendall Whaling Museum is based. All of the methodologies discussed herein discussed herein are visual, the attributes visible to the unaided eye in many cases, augmented by low power stereo microscopy in others.

Paper Details

Date Published: 16 March 2000
PDF: 25 pages
Proc. SPIE 3851, Scientific Detection of Fakery in Art II, (16 March 2000); doi: 10.1117/12.379872
Show Author Affiliations
Donald E. Ridley, Kendall Whaling Museum (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3851:
Scientific Detection of Fakery in Art II
Duane R. Chartier; Walter McCrone; Richard J. Weiss, Editor(s)

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