On a recent Venue visit to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, I was captivated by a gallery filled with scrimshaw items, carved by American nineteenth-century whalemen as gifts for mothers, wives, and sweethearts during their long sea voyages... scrimshanders carved baleen, walrus tusks, and whale teeth into hundreds of thousands of pie crimpers.More photos at the Edible Geography source. And a new word for me: scrimshander. Not in my Random House dictionary, but I found it along with scrimshandy, and scrimshoner as a referent under scrimshaw.
Serious pastry chefs today still crimp the edges of their pies using their fingers. Some might go as far as using a fork or spoon to create decorative patterns; and the truly gadget-obsessed, or those with no limitations on their kitchen storage space, might even own a simple stainless steel crimping wheel.
Nineteenth-century scrimshaw pie crimpers, however, are not just useful for sealing pies with an attractive flourish. They incorporate forks for punching air holes, knives for cutting off excess pastry, tart tampers that double as decorative stamps, and, most importantly, two, three, or even four crimping wheels, each of which would imprint a different pattern on your pie crust.
Photo credit: New Bedford Whaling Museum/Nicola Twilley.