Scrimshaw experts, collectors and fans will come together May 14-16 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum for the 21st annual Scrimshaw Weekend, a 3-day international event that has something for everyone, from the curious-minded to the serious collector.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the scrimshaw capital of the world, and the annual Scrimshaw Weekend is the world’s only forum dedicated to the indigenous shipboard art of whalemen. Founded in 1989, this event attracts enthusiasts from four continents, all gathering to share the enjoyment of collecting and researching this beautiful artwork.

New this year is a Scrimshaw & Marine Antiques Show, which will include a Swap Meet & Sale with multiple dealers’ booths showing scrimshaw, marine antiques, books and more on Friday, May 14, from noon until 5:00 pm.

The Friday evening lecture, “Scrimshaw…Through the Collectors’ Eyes,” will be presented at 8:00 pm by Nina Hellman, marine antiques dealer and author of “A Mariner’s Fancy, The Whaleman’s Art of Scrimshaw.”

On Saturday, May 15, a full schedule of events and activities will include two informative three-hour sessions. The morning session includes talks on “Distinguishing Characteristics of Scrimshaw by the Ceres Artisans,” “The Life and Adventures of the Ceres Scrimshander,” “The Four Ceres Artists Identified,” and “More about the Ceres Artists.” Respectively, speakers include Stuart M. Frank, Ph.D. (New Bedford Whaling Museum), Kenneth R. Martin, Ph.D. (former Director, Kendall Whaling Museum), Donald E. Ridley, P.E. (Volunteer Assistant Curator Emeritus, Kendall Whaling Museum and New Bedford Whaling Museum), and Judith N. Lund (Advisory Curator, New Bedford Whaling Museum).

whale ivory pie crimper

The afternoon session will include a talk by the dean of scrimshaw collectors, Judge Paul E. Vardeman, titled “Recollections of an old time collector and the recent discovery of new artists.” Other presentations include “The Sam McDowell Scrimshaw Collection,” “Recent Adventures and Discoveries at the Forensics Lab,” and a Collectors Market Report. Speakers include Dr. Frank, Richard Donnelly, and Andrew Jacobson. Mr. Donnelly is a long-time volunteer at the New Bedford Whaling Museum and a collaborator on a forthcoming catalogue of the museum’s scrimshaw collection.

A gala banquet on Saturday evening will conclude with two entertaining and informative programs, “Mystery Man of the Fake Susan’s Teeth” (about art fraud) and “Rugs and Floor Coverings on Scrimshaw,” and an ad hoc “Collectors’ Show-and-Tell.”

On Sunday, May 15, an optional fieldtrip will visit important private scrimshaw collections in Newbury and Lincoln, MA. The bus will leave from Fairhaven at 8:00 am, and from New Bedford at 8:15 am, returning by 6:00 pm. The price is $125 and lunch is included.

The fee for Scrimshaw Weekend, including admission to the museum and the Scrimshaw & Marine Antiques Show, scheduled meals, and all plenary sessions is $315 (Museum members $275) prior to May 1st. After May 1st the fee is $370 (Museum members $330). Saturday banquet and evening program is $65.

For the full schedule of events and program updates, please visit the museum website at For logistical information or to register, please contact visitor services at (508) 997-0046, ext 100 or email:

Scrimshaw Weekend is supported in part by Northeast Auctions of Portsmouth, NH, and the Maine Antique Digest, which have generously helped to make this event possible.

For more information, contact:
Arthur Motta
Director, Marketing & Communications
(508) 997-0046, ext. 153

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