NANTUCKET, MA – The Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) is pleased to announce that it is the recipient of a significant gift of important and rare Nantucket artifacts from the collection of Bob and Nina Hellman.
Many of these artifacts relate to the island’s whaling history, including rare whaling harpoons, lances, and spades made on Nantucket by Gustavus Gifford, Elisha Parker, Charles A. Folger, and Samuel Brown Folger; a stock certificate from the Nantucket Marine Camel Company; the journal of a voyage aboard the whaleship Maria (1832-36), a watercolor painting from 1803 of the whaleship Edward of Dunkirk; and a poster for an 1894 train and boat excursion from Boston to Nantucket on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad.
The Hellmans have been leading collectors and dealers in Nantucket historic artifacts for the last five decades, with Bob amassing the largest private collection of whalecraft in existence. In addition to this gift to the NHA, the Hellmans are working to secure the legacy of Bob’s collection by arranging for it to be divided among a consortium of maritime museums including the NHA, the New Bedford Whaling Museum, Mystic Seaport, and the Peabody Essex Museum, by a combination of gift and purchase. They hope to partner with these institutions to create an online catalog of Bob’s collection where his years of research can reside.
“The NHA is delighted to receive these rare Nantucket artifacts from Bob and Nina,” says Michael R. Harrison, NHA Robyn & John Davis Chief Curator. “Their generosity makes the Nantucket Historical Association’s already world-class whaling collection that much stronger and richer.”
Four items from this gift are featured in the NHA’s new major exhibition Out of the Box: Unpacking Nantucket Stories, including a builder’s half-hull model of the Nantucket fishing schooner Charlotte Brown, a shadow box model of the whaleship Three Brothers made by Wallace N. Long (who was custodian of the Whaling Museum from 1942 to 1954), as well as two harpoon irons made by Elisha Parker.