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Historic New England awards Book Prize

2013 Book Prize

BOSTON – October 2013 - Historic New England awards its nineteenth annual Book Prize to Ingenious Contrivances, Curiously Carved: Scrimshaw in the New Bedford Whaling Museum by Stuart M. Frank.

Ingenious Contrivances is a detailed exploration of the scrimshaw in the collection at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. The port of New Bedford was one of the busiest in the mid-nineteenth century, with sailors departing on voyages that often lasted three or four years. While on these voyages, the whalemen spent some of their time carving materials harvested from the whales. The resulting practical and decorative objects, often intricately carved and carefully crafted, would provide mementos and treasured souvenirs for loved ones back home. The range of the work is extraordinary--not simply the decorated sperm whale teeth that the word "scrimshaw" ordinarily brings to mind, but also crimpers and canes, umbrellas and swifts. Anything that could be made of ivory and bone was considered fair game.

New Bedford Whaling Museum Scholarship and Publications Committee chair Llewellyn Howland III said "It is a high honor for our museum to receive this coveted endorsement from Historic New England, and the museum salutes Stuart Frank, curator and author, Richard Donnelly, photographer, Sara Eisenman, designer, and David R. Godine, publisher, for their work in creating this definitive book on scrimshaw, the art of the whalemen."

The Historic New England Book Prize Committee also recognizes two Honor Books:

Meetinghouses of Early New England by Peter Benes identifies more than 2,200 houses of worship in the region during the period from 1662 to 1830, bringing many of them to light for the first time. Women's Work: Embroidery in Colonial Boston by Pamela A. Parmal tells the stories of six women and how needlework shaped their lives and gives long deserved attention to a unique facet of American visual culture and women's history.

Copies of the books are available on Historic New England’s website, as are select past winners of the Historic New England Book Prize.


Special program
Book by New Bedford curator receives award
On Sunday, November 3, Historic New England and the New Bedford Whaling Museum host an event with author Stuart M. Frank to celebrate the nineteenth annual Book Prize award to Ingenious Contrivances, Curiously Carved: Scrimshaw in the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

The afternoon includes a reception and remarks by Historic New England staff and Book Prize winners, followed by a book signing. The award-winning books are available for purchase at the event. The event, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., is free but space is limited. Please call 617-994-5959, or e-mail to reserve a ticket. The New Bedford Whaling Museum is at 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Historic New England awards Book Prize