The following is a podcast transcription.
Hi, everyone, this is Martin Wills and welcome to the Antique Auction Forum for episode number 111 with John Rinaldi on whaling scrimshaw.
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Martin: This podcast is sponsored by WorthPoint. Find out what your antiques are worth at WorthPoint.com. This is Martin Willis and I’m in Kennebunkport, ME with John Rinaldi. How are you doing, John?
John: Good, how are you doing?
Martin: Good. Thanks for meeting with me. We met I think it was in the ‘90s sometime and I saw right away you had a lot of knowledge in scrimshaw and things like that. You’ve been at it for how long?
John: I started in 1972, so quite a while.
Martin: Wow, so you were pretty young then. So how’d you get started in that?
John: When I started living in Kennebunkport I got quite interested in the history of – it’s such a shipbuilding history here in town that I kind of got interested in that. And with that came interest in all the different artifacts that were related to ships and shipping and what not. And it just became something I got very involved with and then I started to buy and sell things and started putting out little catalogs, and I’m still at it.
Martin: Wow. Where did you come from originally?
John: I grew up in Connecticut in a very industrial city in Connecticut called Waterbury.
Martin: How long would you say…you started collecting and selling scrimshaw teeth I think you said?
John: Yeah, I got involved with it right away. It was right about the time Norm Flayderman wrote his book. It was, Scrimshaw and Scrimshanders. And so there was a lot…it really kindled up an interest in scrimshaw and I got interested as a result. And the book was kind of the Bible, and it still kind of is the Bible of the business, although a new one was just produced by the New Bedford Whaling Museum which is wonderful.
And so I just really liked it and loved the history of whaling and what an important industry it was in 19th century America and I got involved and interested not just in the scrimshaw aspect of it, but the implements and tools and items that they used: harpoons and whale guns and just all the different aspects of whaling I found very fascinating.
Martin: I was at an auction I would say 10 or 15 years ago and I believe one of those books went at the auction for quite a bit of money.
SHOW NOTES Martin visits longtime dealer/collector John Rinaldi in Kennebunkport and discusses the known history of Scrimshaw, Prison of War pieces from the Lloyd Collection, and the California crackdown on ivory (antique or not) at auction as well as dealer sales. He also talks about the Annual Symposium at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, his catalog sales and much more.
Martin visits veteran dealer Paul DeCoste in Massachusetts who specializes in antique marine & scientific instruments. They talk about Paul’s background, the people who shared knowledge with him and what the current market is like. Listen in to hear about a “best find” an Aaron Willard Orrery (an orrery pictured to the left). They later discuss rare ivory scrimshaw, famous scrimshanders (Susan’s Teeth), fakes and the strict government enforcement on ivory “smuggling”.
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If you have items of interest in these categories, you can contact Paul at: 978-363-1420