The woolly whale

From master archivist Michael Palmer (who also knows that the woolly mammoth is my principal totem animal) yesterday, a notice from the Yale University Library of the book Guide to the Press of the Woolly Whale Records by Sandra Markham. That’s a guide to the

[ Press of the Woolly Whale ]  [ Records ]  ‘records of the Press of the Woolly Whale’

I’ll turn to the Press of the Woolly Whale in a moment, after noting that woolly whales also appear in the name of a British jewelry company and in at least two art works. Who knew? It seems that a number of people have been amused by the idea of a bizarre hybrid of a whale and a woolly mammoth.

I’ll get to the jewelry and the artworks too.

The Press of the Woolly Whale. From the site of the Woolly Whale Collection in the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at the Wallace Center of the Rochester Institute of Technology:

The Press of the Woolly Whale was founded by Melbert B. Cary Jr., a New York businessman and prominent figure in the fields of typography and private printing during the second quarter of the twentieth century. The press was in operation in New York City between 1928 and 1941 and produced limited edition volumes, publications related to printing and typography, and a variety of ephemera that reflected the interests, professional relationships, and humor of Cary and his friends.

Melbert Brinkerhoff Cary Jr. (1892-1941) was born in New York, educated at the Groton School and Yale University, and died in New York. He was director of Continental Type Founders Association, president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and proprietor of the private Press of the Woolly Whale.

… The collection primarily consists of ephemera issued by the Press of the Woolly Whale between 1928 and 1941, including prospectuses, booklets, invitations, broadsides, holiday cards, mailing labels, certificates, and programs, among other items, most of which were drawn from the stock of the press when it was donated in 1969 to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University; books printed by the press were also received but were cataloged separately.

I haven’t found any photos of this material on the net, but the remaning woolly whales have been photographed.

Woolly Whale Keepsakes. This UK firm offers fingerprint jewellery (using the BrE spelling rather than AmE jewelry) and pers0nalised (again using the BrE spelling) keepsakes. As they exclaim on their website:

Handmade jewellery made with love and care to capture your precious moments. Choose from fingerprints, handprints, footprints, pawprints and doodle charms or take a look at our ever growing range of personalised frames and gifts. As all items are handcrafted to order, the design possibilities are endless and here at Woolly Whale Keepsakes, we love creating bespoke items. If you have an idea please get in touch, we would love to bring your ideas to life…… We have lots of exciting ideas in the pipeline which will be available to purchase soon!


Harpooning The Woolly Whale.This is an illustration by Toronto ON illustrator Michael Wandelmaier from 7/5/08. From a showcase website:

24×15″. Graphite on Bristol with digital coloring. Inspiration for this came from all over – Moby Dick, Japanese prints, mostly children’s stories, myth and folklore about sea monsters.


The color comes from neither whales nor woolly mammoths, and instead of two mammuthian tusks below the mouth or a single narwhalian tusk protruding above the mouth, it has three narwhalian appendages. Actual narwhals do in fact have functioning teeth, but only a couple of them (not an ample mouthful of them, as in #2). So this is an exceptionally fanciful hybrid.

Woolly Sperm Whale. A work by SickSean on DeviantArt in 2012. The creator writes:

This is an idea I had awhile back and had to try to make. I had the idea of making a mythological beast, since most are two animals or more combined, I came up with this. A cross between a Woolly Mammoth and a Sperm Whale.


This one is brown with mammuthian tusks, and otherwise looks like a whale with a whole lot of hair or fur.


2 Responses to “The woolly whale”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Michael Palmer, a link to a 1934 Press of the Woolly Whale item offered for sale by Tavistock Books:

    Jonah and the Woolly Whale were Breakfasting…: A humorous narrative between Jonah and the Woolly Whale that includes the names of the titles offered by the press, followed by a price list.

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Michael Palmer, a link to woolly scrimshaw made by:

    Middle of Nowhere: Professional needle felter and artist writing from a cottage in rural Shropshire. Blogging since 2005.

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