Scrimshaw 101

Saturday, September 9,  2017
10 am – 5 pm

Attendees learned about scrimshaw, the indigenous shipboard art of 19th-century whalemen, from Stuart M. Frank, Ph.D., Senior Curator Emeritus of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and the faculty of the Scrimshaw Forensics® team.

At this day-long seminar attendees explored scrimshaw’s distinguishing characteristics, including the technical background on whaling methods, whaling lore, ship-rigs and whaleboat crews. They learned about pictorial works (boxes, canes, swifts, and other built works), about how to authenticate, restore, and care for scrimshaw, and got the most up-to-date report of the scrimshaw market. Handouts, bibliographies and reference materials were provided.

Scrimshaw provides scholars and historians with a unique window into an early American industry, as well as unusual insights into 19th-century work and family life. The art and craft of scrimshaw are inextricably tied to the history, economics, and shipboard dynamics of the American whaling industry. Scrimshaw emerged contemporaneously with the most vigorous epoch in American maritime enterprise. What began as humble shipboard tool-making evolved into an occupational art form, keeping idle hands busy during long voyages. Work that was little valued in the past has come to be appreciated in recent decades as valuable artworks and historically significant, occupationally rooted artifacts. 

Photo Caption: Whaling Scene, ship Pacific of Nantucket by Edward Burdett, circa 1825-28. Kendall Collection of the New Bedford Whaling Museum. The Museum’s scrimshaw collection is the largest, most varied, and most representative in the world.



Whaling Museum Members $25
Non-Members: $35

Included in the Registration Fee
two coffee breaks | buffet lunch | all study materials | admission to all Museum galleries