Friday, November 30, 2012

Scrimshaw Identified

Over the past few months Dr. Stuart Frank of the New Bedford Whaling Museum has been doing an assessment of Mystic Seaport's scrimshaw collection. As one of the world's authorities on the subject, Dr. Frank is greatly respected for his knowledge and Mystic Seaport is happy to have his expertise put to good use here. One of the many pieces that Dr. Frank examined is a tooth from the so-called "Mechanic" scrimshaw artist. Unknown until identified by Dr. Frank and other members of his research team, the artist was identified in that manner because the scrimshaw in question came from an 1834-38 voyage of the ship MECHANIC  of Newport, Rhode Island. Dr. Frank and his compatriots are confident that the artist is one Spencer Pratt of Bristol, Rhode Island who was the first mate on that particular voyage. A partial description of the accompanying piece from Dr. Frank's work states:

"..blindfolded figure of Justice standing, with left arm akimbo, the Scales of Justice suspended in her left hand, with her right arm outstretched, holding an upright sword. Above all of this is a circumferential band of stars, surmounted by a patriotic device of six flags lit by a radiant sun
or star." This is one of three teeth by Pratt in the collection at Mystic Seaport. Dr. Frank has similarly identified numerous other artists and subjects in the collection, information that will be gladly appended to our records.

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