Herman Melville marker on Capital Region Walk of Fame at New Baltimore Welcome Center (photo edited to remove shadow)

Entrance to Capital Region Welcome Center with Herman Melville’s Capital Region Walk of Fame marker at center below

Three pieces of modern engraving on whale's teeth in a lighted cabinet, one of a whaling scene, another of a woman in fancy clothing, another of a whaling ship.

Scrimshaw
Troy, NY c. 1800s [sic]
Courtesy of the Lansingburgh Historical Society, Troy, NY
These three scrimshaw pieces are intricate engravings or carvings of whale teeth and bone. Lansingburgh resident Herman Melville would have seen this kind of craft while he worked on whaleships in the 1840s. His first novels, Typee and Omoo were written in Lansingburgh, NY and his experiences at sea informed much of his later writing, including the classic Moby Dick.

Display cases at the Capital District Welcome Center; the Lansingburgh case is the center one.

Apologies for these not being the best photos, having been taken with an older model iPad on an overcast and rainy day. The Capital Region Welcome Center in New Baltimore, on the east side of the Thruway (I-87) for those traveling northbound, is certainly worth visiting.

Had more room been available for labels, they might have read:

MODERN SCRIMSHAW OF WHALING SCENE
c. 20th Century
COURTESY OF THE LANSINGBURGH HISTORICAL SOCIETY, TROY, NY
Herman Melville’s family lived in the Village of Lansingburgh from 1838 to 1847. Between 1841 and 1843 he crewed three whaleships: the Acushnet, the Lucy Ann, and the Charles & Henry. His first novels, Typee and Omoo, were written in Lansingburgh; his sea experiences informed much of his later writing, including Moby-Dick, wherein he wrote:

you will come across lively sketches of whales and whaling-scenes, graven by the fishermen themselves on Sperm Whale-teeth, or ladies’ busks wrought out of the Right Whale-bone, and other like skrimshander articles, as the whalemen call the numerous little ingenious contrivances

MODERN SCRIMSHAW OF WOMAN “EMILY”
c. 20th Century
COURTESY OF THE LANSINGBURGH HISTORICAL SOCIETY, TROY, NY
In 1985, Dr. Bryon F. Evans of Saratoga Springs wrote “I have been intending to donate some scrimshaw to the Melville Museum to supplement the little starter collection I have several years ago. Since he wrote the literature on scrimshaw, the museum should work toward a better exhibit.” The late Dr. Evans donated numerous pieces to the Lansingburgh Historical Society between 1978 and 1995. Herman Melville wrote in Moby-Dick, or, The Whale (1851) whalers “will turn you out anything you please, in the way of a mariner’s fancy”; women in fancy dresses were one popular subject among many for scrimshaw.

Front of “Emily” piece of modern scrimshaw on porch of Melville House, prior to loan to Capital Region Welcome Center

Rear of “Emily” piece of modern scrimshaw on porch of Melville House, prior to loan to Capital Region Welcome Center

MODERN SCRIMSHAW OF SHIP
c. 20th Century
COURTESY OF THE LANSINGBURGH HISTORICAL SOCIETY, TROY, NY
The Troy Daily Times in 1899, shortly before the City of Troy’s annexation of the Village of Lansingburgh, wrote that “the river was alive with freight carrying craft plying between Lansingburgh and New York.” The Village was home to several shipyards; the Melville House at #2 114th St. was originally built for master carpenter Stephen Gorham c. 1785; across the street on the riverbank was the shipyard of Capt. Richard Hanford, now Herman Melville Park. In 1813 the 72-ton sloop The Wasp was built in Lansingburgh; in the 1880s it transported granite for the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal.

Whaling ship piece of modern scrimshaw on porch of Melville House, prior to loan to Capital Region Welcome Center

NYS Thruway Welcome Centers
https://www.thruway.ny.gov/travelers/travelplazas/welcome-centers.html

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