Scrimshaw is one of the handful of truly original American folk art forms. It began in the early 1800's by Yankee whalers, who occupied their long hours at sea engraving pictures and designs on whale's teeth for their loved ones at home. Soon the art form evolved to encompass bone, elephant and walrus ivory and even ostrich eggs. Scrimshaw is avidly collected throughout the world.
An international ban on new elephant and whale products has narrowed the source materials for scrimshaw. Bone and Micarta have supplanted ivory. Sam McDowell works on these exclusively, he wholeheartedly supports programs to protect endangered species.
Antiques scrimshaw is regularly featured at fine auction houses like Sotheby's and Christies. Scrimshaw is enjoying a renaissance thanks in part to artist like Sam McDowell.
*find out more about scrimshaw and Mr. McDowells contribution to this dying art by reading our articles section.*