Scrimshaw Weekend – 2012

The 24th Annual Scrimshaw Weekend (May 11, 12, 13, 2012)– the world’s only regular forum where collectors, dealers, curators, folk art and whaling history buffs share their interests in the indigenous art of  whalers.

Since it was first launched in 1989, the annual Scrimshaw Weekend is the world’s only regular forum where collectors, dealers, curators, folk art enthusiasts, whaling history buffs, and casual bystanders nationwide can gather to share their interests in, and insights into, the whalers’ indigenous occupational art of scrimshaw.  Defined as the making of utilitarian and decorative objects from the hard byproducts of whaling — sperm whale ivory, walrus ivory, baleen, and skeletal bone — scrimshandering had its heyday on American and foreign whaleships in the Age of Sail, and scrimshaw-making carried over to the modern shore-whaling stations and factory-ships of the 20th century. 

The New Bedford Whaling Museum holds the world’s largest and most comprehensive scrimshaw collection, and has uniquely been hard at work examining and cataloguing scrimshaw from its own collection and from all over the world, disseminating the results.  The Scrimshaw Weekend is characterized by a wide spectrum of world-class scrimshaw, fine food, new ideas, and high camaraderie.  Calculated to come at the tail end of the popular, all-week Brimfield antiques show in May, the Weekend attracts seasoned collectors and distinguished experts as well as antiques dealers, neophyte collectors, whaling history devotees, and interested bystanders from all over the country, coast to coast. 

This year’s Scrimshaw Weekend is a very special one, as the museum will unveil its long-awaited permanent exhibition of its own nonpareil collection, and will launch a comprehensive catalogue, entitled Ingenious Contrivances, Curiously Carved: Scrimshaw at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, some twenty-plus years in the making. 


Schedule of Events

All sessions, meals, and other events are held in the Cook Memorial Theater and the Jacobs Family Gallery, immediately adjacent to the main entrance and Visitor Reception Desk.  Museum galleries are open daily to all registrants.  Please wear your name badge, which identifies you as a VIP.

Friday, May 11th

  • 12:00 – 5:00: Marine Antiques Show and Scrimshaw Shops (swap meet) — Jacobs Family Gallery
  • 6:00 – 8:00: VIP Scrimshaw Exhibition Preview / Book Launch / Cocktail Reception — Dutch Gallery


Saturday, May 12th

  • 9:00 AM: Registration and Scrimshaw Registration opens — Coffee and pastries — Jacobs
  • 10:00: Welcome and Opening Remarks — James Russell, President — Cook Memorial Theater

  • 10:15: “William Sizer, Scrimshaw Artist: A Comprehensive Review” — John Miklos (Chicago)
  • 11:00: “The Latest Scrimshavological Forensic Analysis of the Anonymous and Mysterious Mantelpiece Maker” — Donald C. Boger, M.D. (Los Angeles)

  • 11:45: “Remarks on Scrimshaw” — Captain Thomas Conley (Chicago), in his PowerPoint debut
  • 12:15: PM Buffet Lunch — Jacobs Family Gallery

  • 1:30: “Scrimshaw: The Artist’s Eye” — Ryan Cooper, scrimshaw artist (Cape Cod)
  • 2:15: “Market Report” — Andrew Jacobson (Ipswich, Massachusetts)

  • 3:00: Coffee Break
  • 3:30: “The California Penal Code and the California Crackdown” — James Vaccarino, J.D., Scrimshaw Forensics® team (presented in absentia)

    • Panel on the California Crackdown — Hon. Paul E. Vardeman, J.D. (Kansas City), Ken Brown (San Francisco), Rod Cardoza (San Diego), Chuck DeLuca (York, Maine and San Rafael, California), Andrew Jacobson (Ipswich, Massachusetts), Stuart M. Frank, Ph.D. (Moderator).

5:00: Discussion

5:30: Cash Bar — Jacobs Family Gallery

7:00: Banquet (includes wine with dinner) — Jacobs Family Gallery

8:30: Keynote: “Matchmaking” — Jack H.T. Chang, M.D. (Denver) — Cook Memorial Theater


Sunday, May 13th

9:30 AM: Coffee and pastries — Scrimshaw Retrieval opens — Jacobs Family Gallery

10:30: Salute to Don Ridley: “Scrimshaw Fakes, Dangerous and Not So Dangerous” — Stuart M. Frank, Ph.D. (New Bedford) — Cook Memorial Theater

11:15: Field Trip to “Seven Continents, Seven Seas” — Stuart Frank — Wattles Gallery

Lunch on your own

2:00 PM: Exhibition Opening and Book Launch: “Ingenious Contrivances, Curiously Carved: Scrimshaw in the New Bedford Whaling Museum” by Stuart M. Frank, photographed by Richard Donnelly, designed by Sara Eisenman, published by David R. Godine.



Museum Members: $295 ($330 after May 1st)
Non Members: $335 ($370 after May 1st)

The Scrimshaw Weekend general admission fee includes access to:
All open galleries and exhibitions at the Museum
Nautical Antiques Show
All Saturday Presentations
Scheduled meal

Tickets to Saturday’s banquet only may be purchased for $75 each.
To register: call 508.997.0046, ext.100 or email:

Hotel Information
Special room rates available for Scrimshaw Weekend attendees. Call for details:

Fairfield Inn and Suites New Bedford by Marriott
185 MacArthur Drive, New Bedford, MA 02740
Tel. 774.634.2000

Hampton Inn New Bedford/Fairhaven
1 Hampton Way, Fairhaven, MA 02719
Tel. 508.990.8500



The Scrimshaw Weekend this year is dedicated to the memory of

Donald E. Ridley (1927-2011)

Marine Engineer • Veteran • Historian of Marine Propulsion

Scrimshaw forensics pioneer and author

Senior Member of the Scrimshaw Forensics® team

Co-cataloguer of the Kendall and Old Dartmouth scrimshaw collections

Kendall Whaling Museum Volunteer with the most annual hours, year after year

New Bedford Whaling Museum Volunteer with the most annual hours, year after year

Dear Friend and Gentle Soul