Scrimshaw Weekend 2013

Thank you to all presenters and participants for another successful Scrimshaw Weekend! Hope to see you again in 2014.

The 25th Annual Scrimshaw Weekend (May 17, 18, 19, 2013) – 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. 

Sponsored by Northeast Auctions of Portsmouth, N.H. and Maine Antiques Digest

Schedule of Events

All Friday and Saturday sessions, coffee, and lunch are in the Cook Memorial Theater and Jacobs Family Gallery, immediately adjacent to the main entrance and Visitor Reception Desk. Saturday evening events are at the First Unitarian Church, 71 Eighth Street, New Bedford. Museum galleries are open daily to all registrants. Please wear your name badge, which identifies you as a VIP.

FRIDAY, May 17th

12 – 5 PM  
Swap Meet and Antiques Show
— featuring a dozen+ dealers specializing in nautical antiques and scrimshaw.

12 – 5 PM  
Registration and Scrimshaw Registration for the Scrimshaw Weekend.


8:00 PM  
KEYNOTE: Scrimshaw Treasures at Mystic Seaport — Stuart M. Frank, Ph.D., Senior Curator Emeritus, New Bedford Whaling Museum, and author of Ingenious Contrivances, Curiously Carved (2012) and Scrimshaw and Provenance (2013). With editorial, research, and photographic contributions by Dr. Jack H.T. Chang and Michael Gerstein.

SATURDAY, May 18th

9:00 AM
Registration and Coffee

10:30 AM
Scrimshaw Registration reopens

10:00 AM
Welcome and Opening Remarks

10:15 AM
Spencer Pratt, the Mechanic Artisan, and Scrimshaw from Rhode Island — Richard Donnelly (Barrington, R.I.), Senior Member of the Scrimshaw Forensics® Panel, antiques dealer, and photographer of Ingenious Contrivances, Curiously Carved.

11:00 AM
The Tabua Gift of a Fiji Chief in the 1830s — Ryan M. Cooper (Yarmouthport, Cape Cod), artist, antiques dealer, and historian of nautical vernacular arts.

11:45 AM
Royal Scrimshaw Collectors in Nineteenth-Century Polynesia — Mary Malloy, Ph.D., Professor of Maritime Studies, Sea Education Association; Museum Studies faculty, Harvard University Extension School; author of Souvenirs of the Fur Trade.

12:30 PM
Buffet Lunch

1:45 PM
New Insights into the Banknote Engraver Teeth — Jack H.T. Chang, M.D. (Englewood, Colorado), scrimshaw historian and Consultant to the Scrimshaw Forensics® Panel.

2:30 PM
The Scrimshaw of Captain George Comer — Fred Calabretta, Curator, Mystic Seaport, and biographer of George Comer.

3:15 PM
Coffee Break

3:45 PM
Recent Scrimshaw Discoveries — faculty of the Scrimshaw Forensics® Panel at the New Bedford Whaling Museum: Richard Donnelly, Stuart M. Frank, Michael Gerstein, Dr. Vasant Gideon, Judith N. Lund, and James Vaccarino.

4:30 PM
Market Report — Andrew Jacobson (Ipswich, Mass.), specialist marine antiques dealer and historian of nautical vernacular arts.

5:15 PM
Introducing Scrimshaw and Provenance: A Third Dictionary of Scrimshaw Artists (published by Mystic Seaport, 2013) — Stuart M. Frank (the author).

5:30 PM
General Discussion Q&A


at the First Unitarian Church, 71 Eighth Street, New Bedford
Transportation will be provided for those who want it — shuttle departs the Museum at 6:15 PM
6:00 PM
Cash Bar reception

7:15 PM

8:30 PM
KEYNOTE: The Two Burdetts: New Perspectives on the Genesis of Pictorial Scrimshaw — Hon. Paul E. Vardeman, J.D. (Kansas City, Mo.), the Dean of Scrimshaw History.

SUNDAY, May 19th

9:00 AM
Field Trip to Mystic Seaport featuring a behind-the-scenes tour of the scrimshaw storage collections and hitherto unseen masterpieces, plus lunch at the Seaport and free time to browse the galleries — hosted by Stuart Frank (New Bedford Whaling Museum), Michael Gerstein (Scrimshaw Forensics® Panel), and Paul O’Pecko (Mystic Seaport). Bus pickup at the Museum and hotels – 9:00 AM; return to New Bedford – 7:00 PM. $60 per person.



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 (Mention group code SCR when making your reservation)
1 Hampton Way, Fairhaven, MA 02719
Tel. 508.990.8500

In Memoriam