6th February 2018

New find:  (that I haven’t bid for because they are asking way too much!!)

1981 Maxart display card.

I did not realise until a couple of days ago that whale teeth were once used to make buttons. There are some in the collection of the Australian National Maritime Museum.  If they are from teeth (see below) then they may be from sperm whales, which are the largest of the toothed whales (as apposed to baleen whales).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date: 19th century “A whale tooth button most likely made from a whale caught in waters off South Australia. Whalebone was a popular medium used to make decorative and functional items as it was both strong and yet able to be polished and carved.”
Note that the description uses the term whale tooth and whale bone interchangeably, which is a little confusing. Historically the term “whalebone” usually referred to the baleen rather than the actual bones of whales.
 Here is another photo of 19th century whale tooth buttons (origins unknown).
and a whale bone button polisher:

An unusual piece of antique scrimshaw. A carved whalebone button board – used to polish buttons while protecting the fabric. American origin circa 1850. Size: 9 inches long. (This looks like baleen).

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