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Sailor Made Lecture Series: “The Albro Sperm Whale Tooth and the Whaleman’s Natural History” with Richard J. King, Ph.D.
October 28 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Mystic Seaport Museum, 75 Greenmanville Ave
Mystic, CT 06355 United States
One of the most curiously extraordinary pieces of art in Sailor Made is the sperm whale tooth by Thomas Albro created aboard the whaleship John Coggeshall of Newport, RI. Rich will tell the story of this object, beginning in the very mouth of the sperm whale, which surfaced off the desolate Kermadecs north of New Zealand, the animal’s death at the hands of whalemen, and then its tooth into the hands of Thomas, one of two artist-sailor brothers on board. Thomas etched the tooth with not only the location, an accurate sperm whale scene and sperm whale, but also a little bestiary of marine life species, including a “sea serpent,” all of which are almost never depicted in surviving scrimshaw. This unique artwork provides a compelling window into how whalemen understood the ocean environment in the 1830s. Rich is the author of Ahab’s Rolling Sea: A Natural History of Moby-Dick, and he’s a visiting associate professor at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, MA. He has researched and sailed in the waters depicted on this tooth!