27th Annual Scrimshaw Weekend

27th Annual Scrimshaw Weekend

Scrimshaw box

May 15 – 17, 2015

The Whaling Museum is the scrimshaw capital of the world, and the annual Scrimshaw Weekend is the world’s only forum devoted to the indigenous shipboard art of whalers during the “Age of Sail.” Founded in 1989, this gala event attracts enthusiasts from across the country and abroad who gather to share the enjoyment of this distinctive and beautiful art form.

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.


2015 Schedule and Events

Friday, May 15

The 6th Annual Nautical Antiques Show 

Noon – 6 p.m.
Early Admission from 11 a.m. – Noon

The 6th Annual Nautical Antiques Show is an exclusive, high quality sale of marine antiques including scrimshaw, nautical instruments and tools, whaling logbooks, ship models, photos, paintings, prints, New Bedford memorabilia, and much more. Browse hundreds of antiques from some of New England’s most respected dealers. Early Admission provides first-pick opportunities for attendees and is $10. Regular Admission is $5 but is free with Museum admission and for Scrimshaw Weekend attendees and Whaling Museum members. CLICK HERE to register for the Nautical Antiques Show.


Scrimshaw Weekend’s Opening Presentation
8 p.m.

The Friday evening opening presentation begins at 8 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater and is titled “The JFK Scrimshaw Collection: A New Deal for Collectors.” This presentation will be given by Stuart M. Frank, PhD, Director, Scrimshaw Forensics® Laboratory and Senior Curator Emeritus, New Bedford Whaling Museum.    


Saturday, May 16 | 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

On Saturday, registration begins at 9 a.m. with opening remarks at 10 a.m.

Saturday’s presentations will include:

  • 10:15 a.m. Panbones and Whale Teeth: The Scrimshaw of Two English Masters of the Genre presented by the Hon. Paul E. Vardeman, JD
  • 11:15 a.m. Farmer Goes a-Whaling: Non-Scrimshaw in the Fabulous Collection of Frederick Allen presented by Richard Donnelly, Scrimshaw Forensics® Laboratory
  • 1:30 p.m. Glimpses Behind the Scrimshaw: Those Pesky Scrimshandering Whalemen and Some of the Other Stuff They Did presented by Stuart M. Frank, PhD, Director, Scrimshaw Forensics® Laboratory and Senior Curator Emeritus, New Bedford Whaling Museum
  • 2:30 p.m. More Yankee Scrimshaw from Polynesia presented by Mary Malloy, PhD, Professor of Humanities, Sea Education Association and Museum Studies, Harvard University
  • 3 p.m. Campaign: The Kennedy Library and JFK Scrimshaw Collection
  • 3:45 p.m. Annual Market Report presented by Andrew Jacobson
  • 4:30 p.m. Inaugural Plenary Meeting of the Antique Scrimshaw Collectors Association presented by Parke Madden, President of the Antique Scrimshaw Collectors Association 

Saturday evening will feature a gala banquet in the Jacobs Family Gallery. The gala begins with a cash bar at 6 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. The evening concludes with a presentation titled “Farthest Refuge: Visions of St. Helena, the Penultimate Resting Place of Bonaparte, and the Advent of the Napoleonic Scrimshaw by Stuart M. Frank, PhD, Director, Scrimshaw Forensics® Laboratory and Senior Curator Emeritus, New Bedford Whaling Museum.


Sunday, May 17 | Thrilling Off-Site Fieldtrip to Northeast Auctions of Portsmouth, N.H.

9:15 a.m.
Departure from the New Bedford Whaling Museum
6:00 p.m.
Planned return to the New Bedford Whaling Museum

Sunday will feature a thrilling off-site field trip to Northeast Auctions of Portsmouth, N.H. to view the scrimshaw collection of the late Thomas Mittler of Michigan, one of the largest and most comprehensive private collections ever assembled. It has been catalogued, and soon will be published in an illustrated book by Nina Hellman. This once-and-only viewing of the whole collection will also include a bonus viewing of the Northeast Auctions' spring sale scheduled for the week following. The field trip is open only to registrants at the 2015 Scrimshaw Weekend and their spouse or guest. Registration will be limited. The Sunday field trip is an additional $70 per person which covers the cost of transportation and includes a lunch in Portsmouth.


Registration Information

Nautical Antiques Show Early Admission $10.00
Scrimshaw Weekend: Members $295.00 ($330 after May 1)
Scrimshaw Weekend: Non-Members $335.00 ($370 after May 1)
Plus 1 Dinner Guest for Saturday Night $75.00
Sunday Field Trip $70.00

Click Here to register online.

Register by Mail:  Send payment to Scrimshaw Weekend, New Bedford Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA 02740. Checks should be made payable to New Bedford Whaling Museum and include Scrimshaw Weekend in the check memo.

Register by Phone: Call 508-997-0046 x100



A reduced rate has been secured at the Fairfield Inn & Suites New Bedford (short walk to the New Bedford Whaling Museum).
Book your group rate here.  Start date: 5/14/15  End date: 5/18/15  Last day to book: 4/20/15


Support for the 27th Annual Scrimshaw Weekend is provided, in part, by:

Antiques & The Arts Weekly
Northeast Auctions of Portsmouth, N.H.
The Maine Antique Digest
New England Antiques Journal


Social Media: #ScrimshawWeekend

Last Modified: April 16, 2015
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