Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On the trail...

Different kind of treasure I was sure I could find anything in Manhattan. Even the match to my sizable piece of scrimshaw, the match that would prove that it wasn’t worth ten grand or more. That’s why I waited for her inevitable question, trying not to seem anxious. 

FinaIly, it came.

“What do you want to do today?”

Slowly, I answered. “How about the Seaport Museum? Love to see their scrimshaw exhibit.” [South Street Seaport National Maritime   Museum
www.nyctourist.com/community/featured_article_south... South Street Seaport Museum is situated in a 12-block historic district on the East River in Lower Manhattan]

What excited me was that the Museum boasted the “third largest scrimshaw collection” in the world. Unsure that fact would help convince her, I kept in to myself. And I tried to appear nonchalant.

“O.K.,” she said, with a smile so charming I was made to feel I’d made a great suggestion. Still, I knew better than to display a triumphant fist pump.

Two buses and at least twenty minutes later, we were on South Street, not far from the Fulton Fish Market. “As long as we’re here,” she said, “let’s go to see the Bodies Exhibit at the Fulton, since we’re seeing your scrimshaw.”

Although I felt like a kid who wanted to ask, “Do we have to?” I swallowed that feeling and answered, “Sure!”

Perky as I tried to sound, both of us knew I’d avoided that exhibit when we’d seen it advertised at two other cities. Now that we were only a few dozen steps away, my only hope was that we’d see it AFTER lunch. [New York Bodies Exhibition Home | South Street Seaport     www.bodiestheexhibition.com/newyork Visit the Bodies Exhibition Seaport exhibit in New York today!]

As we approached the old wooden doors a sidewalk’s width from the cobblestone South Street, I loved what I saw. On display in the front windows were dusty models of tall wooden ships. Only one light illuminated a workshop behind a crowded counter of maritime books, magazines, and memorabilia that included carvings in various stages of repair. Sunlight added a gentle glow.

So did Sol Polisi’s smile, resident woodcarver “for thirty years.” He handed us a card as he discussed a few items I’d asked about, items that would have been at home on sailing ships in the 19th century. “This book is about $75,” he told me, when I asked about a piece that appeared to be an antique. “I make them as gifts.”

Tempted as I was to order one, I resisted. We hadn’t seen the scrimshaw. “Sol,” I said, feeling as if he was so open and friendly that I wouldn’t think of calling him anything but Sol, “where do we find the scrimshaw?”

“Well,” he said, “since Hurricane Sandy, that part of the museum has been closed.” He wasn’t sure when it would re-open. He did tell us that many more valuable collectibles, stored in the basement, were destroyed. We would see evidence of that in the print shop next door.

Outside, across the street, we saw Abercrombie and Fitch, opened for the first time since the hurricane. We regarded it as a sign of Manhattan’s resilience, although I wondered whether reopening on that spot was a great idea, especially since, as we discovered a few minutes later, the Fulton Market was closed.

Indeed, it’s being replaced by a brand new 400,000 square foot facility at Hunt’s Point in the Bronx. [Lower Manhattan : News | Fulton Fish Market Departs
www.lowermanhattan.info/news/fulton_fish_market_to_54219...  On a brisk morning in June, the atmosphere at the Fulton Fish Market is vibrant and the fishy smell is still strong. But as of this fall, the fishmongers will be gone ...]

“The Bodies exhibit was on the seventh floor,” said a helpful official overseeing the completion of a stage for chairs to view an outdoor movie. He was pointing at the Fulton Market. “But the Market’s closed,” he said, “and the exhibit has been moved to…”

Whatever he said next didn’t register. Although I didn’t get to see the scrimshaw, I’d sidestepped the Bodies too. But I didn’t say a word about that because I’d already found the largest collection of scrimshaw and the second largest, at the Hull Maritime Museum, (see below) were nowhere near the Bodies. 

www.eazhull.org.uk/summerschool02/towndocks/home.html   Cached
The Maritime Museum. Home Page. The Maritime Museum is an excellent traditional museum, it is situated near Princess Quay right opposite the famous monument of Queen ..

Indeed, the largest, at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts is but a day trip away from Manhattan…

World's largest scrimshaw exhibit!

Scrimshaw experts, collectors and fans from around the world will gather for the 23rd Annual Scrimshaw Weekend at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, MA from May 11–13. The event will feature three days of activities including the opening of a new permanent exhibit…of the world’s largest scrimshaw collection, [my emphasis] titled “Scrimshaw: Shipboard Art of the Whalers.”

B.Koplen 7/16/13

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