If you read the Enterprise Library Happenings column, you may have noticed mention of a question we received about a scrimshaw thimble. It turned out that the question was so fun and the thimble so adorable that it was worth turning into a blog post!
We received an email from a staff member at the Montreal West Public Library who was working on cataloging a collection of thimbles donated to their location. (Check out Thimble Thursdays on their Facebook Page!) They knew that the maker of this thimble was George Turner of Falmouth MA, but had no other information about the artist, and wondered if we could help them. First we checked the Reference books we have on scrimshaw artists (helpfully titled Scrimshaw Artists and More Scrimshaw Artists) but they did not list a George Turner.
I then turned to the digitized historic Falmouth Enterprise to see if I could learn anything about a George Turner, and quickly found a detailed obituary of a prominent citizen, George Henry Turner, who lived from 1858 to 1939. And as a young man he’d spent time at sea on a whaler! He seemed like a very likely candidate for the creator of this thimble, and as a bonus I got to learn more about Falmouth History reading about his life. He was accidentally born in Cotuit, raised on a farm in Hatchville, went to sea young, came back to take over the family farm after his father died, ran multiple businesses including a fish market and a grocery store, and in his retirement years was known for driving around town in a venerable Model T. An all-encompassing Falmouth life!
If you know more about George Henry Turner you’d like to share with us, and especially if you know anything about this thimble, which was added to the collection by purchase in 1989, please be in touch! We can also put you in touch with the librarians at Montreal West who are caring for this little seagull now.
(Click on these newspaper clippings to enlarge them.)