Book Review-‘London and the Whaling Trade by’ C. Ellmers and C. Payton
This volume, the proceedings of a Docklands History Group Symposium held at the Museum of London in March 2013, brings us up to date with the state of knowledge of the London whaling trade. There is a surprising lack of surviving log books of the whale fisheries from the metropolis both to Greenland and the South Seas. Business records are largely absent and ship portraits are scarce, though the absence of the latter is to some extent made up for by examples of scrimshaw work, the folk art of the whaler. Janet West provides a delightful introduction to the book with examples of carved whale teeth and decorated plaques of bone and baleen which illustrate whaling in the Arctic for the right whale and in the South Seas, mainly for sperm whales. In a separate paper she discusses the scrimshaw of the South Sea fishery, especially those pieces with identifiable vessels and names of individual seamen, and some with scenes of particular incidents, with date and precise location.