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Exhibit: A Tale of Two Sailmakers

Bench hook used in sailmaking, ca. 1900

Item 14519   info | My Album
Bench hook used in sailmaking, ca. 1900 /

Text by Stephanie Heatley
Images from the Maine Historical Society
Originally part of the museum exhibit, "Camera's Coast," 2004

Amos Perkins Lord (1868-1957) became an apprentice sailmaker at age 14 and worked in the trade until he died at age 89.

In addition to sewing sails for various vessels, Lord sewed awnings and tents to stay busy in the winter. He was best known, however, for his sails. His most notable job was making a sail for the USS Constitution. His sail, chosen from those sent in from sailmakers around the country, was an exact replica of the original foretopmast studding sail and was one of 36 sails selected when the ship was refurbished in the 1920s.

Lord worked for many years out of his house and sail loft on Limerock Street in Camden. When he died, his stepdaughter Jessie, who had lived and worked with Lord for many years, continued working out of the house, operating Jessie’s Canvas Shop.

In 1976, sailmaker Grant Gambell began renting the sail loft. When Jessie died in 1981, Gambell bought the house and shop, where he still lives and works. Gambell still uses some of Lord’s tools, and his work combines modern technology and the old-fashioned techniques.

The following images are all sailmaking tools that were used by Amos Lord and Grant Gambell.

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