top of page
farthest corners banner v3.jpg

Ever since the first mariners set off to explore the seas, new, exotic, and sometimes strange, items have been brought back as souvenirs, trophies and relics of voyages to distant lands.

The watermen and whalers of our area were no different. They would traverse the globe, whaling, trading, and exploring new locales. With each new journey they would return with exciting mementos from their travels. We have culled our archive and are exhibiting a small selection of items that locals had returned to Bridgehampton with from The Farthest Corners of the world.

compass icon web.png
globes icon  web.png
whale icon farthest top banner.png
small single draw spyglass
This object is a single-pull spyglass made by the Lincoln company in London England. The name engraved on the first draw of this telescope is quite simple: it just says Lincoln, London, with the first word in script, like a logo: and the latter word is written as “London” is typed.

Single Pull spyglass, 1800s
Wood and brass
9 ½ x 1 ¾ x 1 ¾ in. (24.1 x 4.4 x 4.4 cm) closed 
15 x 1 ¾ x 1 ¾ in. (38.1 x 4.4 x 4.4 cm) open 
The actual manufacturer of this instrument, Charles Lincoln belonged to the previous generation of London instrument makers, trading from 1765 to 1804 in various locations on Leadenhall Street. Leadenhall Street in London was a popular area for optical instrument makers. From 1772 onwards he was at 62 Leadenhall Street, with an address starting with “Sir Isaac Newton’s Head” – presumably this was the sign over the door.
His Father Thomas Lincoln (under whom Charles trained), was himself a renowned maker who served as the Master of The Spectacle Maker’s Company from 1746 – 1747 and his death coincides with Charles’s early trading period, suggesting that he took over an already respected business. He succeeded to his Father's position in The Spectacle Maker’s Company from 1787 – 1790 and was known to have had numerous apprentices notably Charles Silberrad and William Cox, the latter being turned over to him from John Cuff.
Excepting his large achievements during his lifetime, Lincoln’s trading life is as yet only lightly documented. His instruments and those of his apprentices however, continue to speak very well for his abilities as an instrument maker.
single draw Lincoln spyglass detail
larger "wanderer" single draw spyglass
This object is a single-pull spyglass.
The original provenance is unknown to the museum. There is a cursive inscription “Wanderer R Y L” on the brass cylinder when extended. The name and initials are also presently unknown.

 

Single-Pull spyglass, 1800s
Wood and brass
20 x 2 x 2 in. (24.1 x 4.4 x 4.4 cm) closed 
15 x 2 x 2 in. (38.1 x 4.4 x 4.4 cm) open
According to museum records, this object’s original provenance was Captain Thomas Halsey and hails from the area of Hawaii (formerly referred to as the Sandwich Islands in honor of the fourth Earl of Sandwich). It came into possession of the museum via Mr. Thomas Hildreth.
shorter Shark-tooth weapon

 

Shark Tooth Spear/Sword, c. 1800s
Reed wood and (presumed to be) shark’s teeth with natural fiber lashing.
26 x 2 x 1 in. (66 x 5 x 2.54) approximately
Gilbert Islands Map
Situated in the South pacific in present day Micronesia, The Gilbert Islands were visited by whalers frequently in the 19th century. Sailors mapped the area extensively and interacted with the local people.

The indigenous Kiribati peoples' lives were tied to the sea. And as with many Micronesian and Polynesian cultures, sharks played an important cultural role for the I-Kiribati. Sharks are involved in the origin mythology of the islands and they played a major part in religious initiation ceremonies.

Using part of the great creatures in a weapon would imbue it with some of the shark’s strength. We can see too that sharks have continued to play an important role in Kiribati. By identifying teeth used in Gilbert Islands weaponry, researchers from Columbia University and the Field Museum were able to prove that at least two of the sharks once used for these weapons were no longer endemic to the region.

It is important to note that based upon our research, the museum believes that the objects in our collection hail from the Gilbert Islands, however we have not yet fully confirmed their point of origin.
According to museum records, this object hails from the South Pacific and may have been much larger at one point. It made its way to Long Island via a Whaler from Sag Harbor. It found its way into the collection of the Henry Halsey Family and ultimately to the museum’s permanent collection.
larger Shark-tooth weapon

Shark Tooth Spear c. 1800s 
wood and (presumed to be) shark’s teeth with natural fiber lashing.
45 x 2 x 1 in. 114.3 x 5 x 2.54) approximately
Shark fishing was only done by experts. The larger size of the prey required fishermen to travel farther away from shore and employ methods including remarkable deep-sea hooks. When the teeth had been removed from the sharks, weapons were fashioned using available materials. The weapons were used ceremonially as well as to resolve disputes and in battle.
 
The swords are made from seasoned wood of the coconut palm with cutting edges made from sharks teeth attached with fine fibrous cords. Most of these swords were destroyed by the maritime visitors to the islands.
The weapons resembled broadswords with a serrated edge created with many shark teeth. The duels were performed mostly for the purpose of settling disputes and maintaining honor.

Detail of Shark Tooth Spear
Kiribati has a history of contrived and ritualized duels. The armor was made of thickly woven sennit, a kind of coconut fiber. The duelists wore helmets made of blowfish remains. The helmets were resilient and, due to the structure of blowfish, covered with many points. Combat on the Gilbert Islands tended to inflict many injuries, but relatively few fatalities. One of the reasons for this is the immensely effective armor used by Kiribati warriors.
 
War in Kiribati’s islands took place for any of the usual reasons. As sides faced off, combat usually began with projectiles—mostly stones, but in this case shark-barbed spears were also used. When the distance between the two waring parties had been closed, the shark tooth swords and clubs were used.
 
These swords were not only threatening in appearance but were extremely effective at inflicting both shallow lacerations and blunt force trauma. Ceremonial duels between the champions of feuding villages were often settled using the shark-toothed weapons.
kiribati warrior
 
Kiribati armor and spear (Photo: George Hubert Eastman, © Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge), before 1925
larger feather pelerine
According to museum records, this item was a gifted to a Methodist minister by a Shinnecock whaler who acquired it in the Philippines.

Feather Pelerine (Collar or Cape), 19th Century
cotton and feathers from various birds (peacocks, guinea fowl, among others)
36 x 26 in. ( 91.4 x 66 cm) approximately
We find people using feathers to make different types of garments on every continent except Antarctica. They have a universal appeal, and humans are mesmerized and drawn to their colors and textures. In Asia, across Europe, throughout Polynesia, the America’s and in Africa. These garments symbolize different things and serve various purposes from culture to culture. 
 
During the 1800s feather pelerines became highly fashionable in England after native Hawaiian royalty visited the country. A pelerine is a woman's cape of a variety of materials with pointed ends at the center front, popular in the 19th century. Upper-class English ladies would have contemporary feather pelerines made from exotic feathers.
carriage-dress-from-1830-fashionable-coat-ERFX3N.jpg
smaller pelerine
According to museum records, this item is purported to have been brought back from a whaling trip by the donor’s ancestor, Captain William Wallace Hildreth.

Feather Pelerine (Collar or Cape), 19th Century
cotton and feathers from various birds (peacocks, guinea fowl, among others)
33 x 23 in. (83.2 x 58.4 cm) approximately
The two pelerines in the Museum’s collection come from two different sources. It is difficult to say with absolute certainty where these feathered pelerines were made and acquired. Similar pelerines can be found in museums around the world. Despite their commonality, very little is known about their manufacture and scholars and curators have debated their origins. Some have speculated that they may have been made by Native Americans in the Great Lakes regions while others have argued that they are English made but Polynesian inspired, crafted in the South Pacific, Asia, or India.

Despite the uncertainty and controversy, what we can say is that these two examples make beautiful additions to the museum’s permanent collection. Providing inspiration through their beauty and craftsmanship and serving as the catalyst for discourse.
detail of larger pelerine

Detail of the Museum's larger Pellerine
Claus Hoie
Scrimshaw is the term used for engravings and carvings done in bone or ivory. Sperm Whale teeth were the main material used by many whalers in this artform. Whalers would produce a mixture of art and everyday household items from the teeth and bones of their catch.
The Bridgehampton museum offers a small selection these items from our archive 

Claus Hoie, From " The Log of the Whaler Helena",
watercolor on paper 
This item represents the level of intricacy that could be achieved by artisans carving in whale bone.
Untitled - April 3, 2024 11_edited.jpg

 

Belt or Shoe Buckle, c. 19th century
Untitled - April 3, 2024 11.31_edited.jp

 

Ivory Pocket Calendar and Diary, 19th Century
Sperm Whale Tooth 
Pocket-sized calendar that consists of eight small pages of whale ivory, all hinged at one end with a single rivet.
each page measures 2½ x 1⅝ in
The pages are stamped at the top edge with a different day of the week from Monday through Saturday. The inner pages are protected with a thicker ivory outer page cover at the front and back.
This object represents how whale bone elements were integrated into everyday objects. 

 

Whalebone Knife Handle, c. 19th century
Whalebone butter spreader

 

Whalebone Butter Spreader, c. 19th century
This object illustrates how whale bone and ivory was fashioned into items intended for everyday use. The materials and byproducts of whaling permeated nearly every facet of every day life in our area, even in "Miss Isabel's" home.
Made from whalebone, this was donated by Lulu H. Raynor; belonged to her grandfather, David J. Swain. 
pie crimper

 

Pie Crimper, c. 1850s
Untitled - March 30, 2024 09.44.08 (22).png
19th century Cribbage set  closed
This object is an incomplete cribbage set presumed to be English from the late 19th century however, it could possibly be dated earlier. The box is inlaid has several varieties of wood, including Rosewood, Mahogany and (possibly) Pearwood. Includes four hand made dice and two small spikes for playing the game.

 

19th Century Cribbage Game, 1800s
Rosewood, mahogany, and other woods (inlaid)
2x4¾x3½ in. (5.1 x 12.1 x 8.9 cm) closed
Cribbage, a card game where players keep score with pegs on a board, is believed to have been invented in the 17th century. It became a favorite of sailors and was especially popular on whaling ships. Sailors would make their own boards out of carved whalebone, animal teeth or tusks. Thus, as the sailors travelled around the globe, cribbage as was introduced to people and cultures all around the world.
Cribbage remained popular into the 19th century, immortalized in Charles Dickens' tale, the Old Curiosity Shop. The game was very popular with sailors as it only required a deck of cards, a cribbage board, and two players.
19th century Cribbage set open

Detail of the Cribbage Set in the "open" position
sextent icon maritime.PNG
bottom of page