Participate in Scrimshaw Weekend at the New Bedford Whaling Museum

Dr. Stuart M. Frank, Senior Curator of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, has announced an open invitation for interested people to participate in a round-robin session during the May 11-13, 2012 Scrimshaw Weekend in Massachusetts. Dr. Frank would be pleased to hear from conservators. The dates of this event overlap with the end of AIC’s Annual Meeting, however it is possible to submit by April 4 a brief PowerPoint presentation on a CD or flash drive.

For the full text of Dr. Frank’s invitation please read below or visit and  click on Programs.


for participants in the Scrimshaw Weekend at the New Bedford Whaling Museum

May 11-13, 2012

 Collectors, curators, enthusiasts, onlookers, and others attending this year’s Scrimshaw Weekend are invited to participate in one or both of two round-robin sessions planned for Saturday, May 12:




 “Favorite” scrimshaw can be of any type — whale teeth, swifts, crimpers, busks, boxes, tools, canes, watch hutches, sewing implements, whatever.  They can be favorite pieces in your own collection or in a museum or other public-access repository, or a combination of both.  It’s very important, of course, that you provide for each piece whatever information you may know about it — who made it, who brought it home from a voyage and when, what voyage, and any names and provenance associated with it.  And even if you don’t know the answers to those questions, you can certainly tell us when, where, and how you got it, your opinion about its historical sig­nificance (if any), and why it’s one of your favorites.

By “fake” scrimshaw we mean art fraud — forgeries — pieces that were produced deliberately or inadvertently to deceive: scrimshaw made entirely or partly of genuine whale ivory, walrus ivory, whale skeletal bone, or baleen; or out of some other material(s) made to resemble authentic whale ivory, walrus ivory, skeletal bone, or baleen; and falsely made to look antique — to masquerade as authentic antique whalemen’s work.  We are NOT interested in fakeshaw (machine-manufactured pieces made of polymer resin, petrochemical plastic, or other synthetics); or in honest modern “revival” art.  We ARE interested in anything that could be mistaken for genuine antique whale­men’s work, especially in intentional fakes and forgeries, which are to be presented as a caution to collectors; and in obvious howlers, for their amusement value.

 Your participation can take either one of two forms:

  1. By letting us know in advance, we can allocate you 15 minutes at the podium to do a Power­Point presentation, using your own pictures, organized any way you choose.  The best means to do this would be to bring your PowerPoint presentation(s) on a CD or flash drive (“stick”) to be downloaded in advance onto our PC.  You can sign up for 15 minutes to show either “Favorite Scrimshaw” or “Scrimshaw Fakes,” or 15 minutes on each.  Applications will be accepted on the basis of merit, on a first-come-first-served basis, until the schedule is full.  The deadline for the application is Wednesday, April 18th.  OR…
  2. You can send us a CD or flash drive (“stick”) with PowerPoint pictures of your favorite scrimshaw and/or your nominees for interesting fakes, in each case including a Microsoft Word document or PDF containing the required background information; and we’ll do the presentation for you.  In this case you would have the option of making the whole thing anonymous.  The deadline for submission is Wednesday, April 4th (which should allow us enough time to put the presentation together while simultaneously installing our new exhibition of scrimshaw).  Please note that no submission will be honored without the aforementioned key background info.

 As part of the process, we — that is, I and some of the members of the Scrimshaw Forensics Group who meet each week at the Scrimshaw Forensics Laboratory® at the Whaling Museum — will present a selection of notable fakes, forgeries, mistakes, and follies from the museum collec­tion, and a few howlers that have been brought to us for vetting.  It should be instructive and fun, provided that at least a few of our attendees are willing to participate.