So, my family and I are part of a fantastic homeschooling co-operative, and we have people both in the co-op and now from local businesses and artists, craftsmen and women, etc...
We had a Scrimshaw artist come to do an hour and a half class on the history of the art of scrimshaw, and how the men on the ships would have months at a time without any action. During this downtime, they would be given whale ivory to work with to keep them busy. This would most often be the teeth of the Sperm Whales they would hunt. They would scrape the ivory smooth with their knives, then buff it until it had a matte finish. They would then stipple or engrave the ivory into whatever design they liked, then the piece would get dyed with whatever they had at hand, octopus ink, traded berries, tobacco or tea, and the soot from the lamps were the most common shades, but 90% of the works were done only with lamp soot, and therefore left black and white.
She also brought some very beautiful pieces with her, and she is a very accomplished artist at her craft. I took a picture of a scrim done of a beautiful schooner that she had with her. I don't think it was a piece done by her, but nonetheless it is absolutely stunning and I thought I would share it with you all.
Even small pieces the size of an egg can go for around 3-4 hundred. It's mainly the cost of the ivory itself that drives the prices. Of course the artist charges for their time and effort, but scrim gets very pricey real quick.
Just make sure it is legal before you do purchase any ivory (if you ever feel the need) as it is very restricted, and in some states downright illegal.