From Camels to Cobangs

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Japanese shaku dokei or pillar clock, circa 1859. Traditional Shitan wood case, brass movement on wood backing with nine silvered adjustable hour markers on the time scale. (Accession# 1934.0031.000009/NA 47)

This lengthy blog post began rather innocently when Bonham’s most recent Art of Time auction catalog arrived. One of the many varied aspects of my job is placing insurance values on objects so I regularly peruse catalogs for objects similar to those in our collection.  In the catalog I noticed a Japanese pillar clock, called a shaku dokei, up for auction. While updating the value I noticed a name on the clock’s storage box—’C. E. Thorburn, USN’. Whenever I run across a name, especially one this unique, I immediately try to see if I can uncover the history of the original owner.

My first stop was Fold3, a genealogical research site specifically used to document military service. It’s a great site—but sadly super tricky to use as its search feature makes you want to rip your hair out. I immediately had a number of hits for the name Thorburn. I spotted a Thorburn on the USS Susquehanna in 1851-1852 which was really exciting because that’s when the ship was in the Pacific getting ready to head into Japan with Matthew C. Perry to negotiate the treaty that would open trade with America—unfortunately the name was “E. C. Thorburn” (a midshipman) so I wasn’t 100% sure it was the same person.    Read more

Twelve Days of Christmas at The Mariners’ Museum

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The Shah and Trivedi Families, New Jersey

A few days ago I spotted a video posted by the staff of the Western Australia Museum about the twelve days of Christmas. It inspired me to write my own, Mariners’ Museum version of the twelve days of Christmas to celebrate Dollar Admission and the holidays and today, a few of our Museum guests helped me illustrate it.

On the first day of Christmas our dollar let us see a hydrofoil in the Great Hall.   Read more

Every Little Thing: A Look at an Artifact’s Pit-stop in Conservation before Going out on Loan

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Needles from sailmaker’s needle case. Photo credit: Paige Schmidt, The Mariners’ Museum and Park.

Hello again, Mariners. If you don’t remember me, I’m the museum’s Assistant Objects Conservator. Recently, I’ve been working on several items that are going out on loan to various institutions next year. While only a couple of these projects will be very treatment intensive (probably more on those later…), I thought I’d share an example of the routine care and due diligence paid to every artifact prior to loan. Every little consideration is important to ensure the safety of an object while it is being appreciated elsewhere.

Our Collections Manager, Jeanne, asked me to look at this sailmaker’s needle case and needles (accessioned in 1934), which was requested for loan by the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown for an upcoming exhibit.   Read more