Object Number: SAAPT 050
This scrimshaw, or carved sperm whale’s tooth, was carved by James Bute on the HMS Beagle during its Second Voyage (1831 – 1836). The carving depicts the HMS Beagle beached on Santa Cruz, South America. Onboard the ship was the famous naturalist Charles Darwin. Just twenty-two at the time, Darwin woud later described the journey as ‘by far the most important event in my life’. Darwin collected specimens and made botanical and geological observations that would influence his theory on natural selection.
The scrimshaw came to be in our collection thanks to a generous donation by the family of another eminent scientist, Sir D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson. The scrimshaw is currently on loan to University of St Andrews Museum Services and an excellent history of this object is provided on the museum’s blog