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One suggestion for the origin of the term was the French phrase jeune d'Anvers ('young [person] of Antwerp'). British sailors "cockneyed" this description into the personal name "Jenny Hanvers." They are also widely known as "Jenny Haviers."
For centuries, sailors sat on the Antwerp docks and carved these "mermaids" out of dried skates. They then preserved them further with a coat of varnish. They supported themselves by selling their artistic creations to working sailors as well as to tourists visiting the docks.
The earliest known picture of a Jenny Haniver appeared in Konrad Gesner's Historia Animalium vol. IV in 1558. Gesner warned that these were merely disfigured rays, and should not be believed to be miniature dragons or monsters, which was a popular misconception at the time.
Media references 
The Jenny Haniver was the name of an airship in the Mortal Engines Quartet novels by Philip Reeve and a boat in one of the prequels to the series, A Web of Air, itself a part of the Fever Crumb Series.
See also 
- The Bermuda Depths, a 1978 fantasy film originally broadcast as a made-for-TV movie featuring a mysterious character named "Jennie Haniver"
- "The Zymoglyphic Museum Curator's Web Log: Notes from the Museum's Mermaid Tank". www.zymoglyphic.org. Retrieved 2010-08-28.
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