Scrimshaw book takes annual prize

Nov 1, 2013

Ingenious Contrivances, Curiously Carved: Scrimshaw in the New Bedford Whaling Museum, by Stuart M. Frank, is the winner of the nineteenth annual Historic New England Book Prize. Frank, senior curator at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, uses the museum’s collection of scrimshaw—the world’s largest—as a means of examining the city’s nineteenth-century whaling industry and the craft that emerged from it.

Each year, Historic New England awards the Book Prize to a monograph or exhibition catalogue that advances the understanding of the architecture, landscape, and material culture of New England and the United States from the seventeenth century to the present.

This year, two publications also have been named Honor Books: Meetinghouses of Early New England, by Peter Benes, director of the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife, which looks at the central role wood-frame meetinghouses played in early American communities and their architecture; and Women’s Work: Embroidery in Colonial Boston, in which Pamela A. Parmal examines the importance of needlework through the stories of six Colonial-era women. Parmal is the David and Roberta Logie Curator of Textile and Fashion Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

James Russell, president and CEO of the Whaling Museum, noted, “At a time when so many cultural nonprofits are under pressure and must look only to the bottom line, we are particularly pleased to be able to continue publishing world-class scholarship, in this case, a definitive and elegant reference, which furthers the body of knowledge on scrimshaw while providing Stuart the academic freedom to expound upon the depths of our collection. His companion exhibition stands to put real teeth in our commitment to the pursuit of scholarship and to increase general awareness of this most curious of art forms.”

Browse Book Prize winners and Honor Books from 2013 and past years in our online shop.