Scrimshaw serving mallet made entirely of whalebone. There is a considerable amount of tar remaining on the surfaces indicating use of this tool in the serving of tarred marlin on ship rigging. 5 1/2 in. long, 2 1/4 in. wide.
On traditionally rigged sailing ships, a serving mallet was used to apply a mixture of tar, varnish and black paint for protection against chafing and deterioration of the standing rigging. Referred to as “service” of the rope, the process is described in rhyme as "worm and parcel with the lay; turn and serve the other way" and is fully described in The Book of Knots by Clifford Ashley.