A Piece of History Returns to Sag Harbor

The 1796 powder horn. A. Hinkle photo.

A Piece of History Returns to Sag Harbor
By Annette Hinkle | Sag Harbor Online

It’s not every day that a piece of historic Sag Harbor finds its way back home.

But that’s exactly what’s happened in recent weeks at the Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum.

It all started back in early fall when museum manager Greg Therriault and collections manager Richard Doctorow were approached by a private collector from North Carolina who had a powder horn which he purchased at an antiques show a few years ago.

The horn, which was used to store gun powder while hunting, dated to the late 18th century and it was etched with images of ships, animals and text reading: “Sagg Harbor Feb 10th 1796 • Stratten Conkling • his horn made by himself.”

The collector was looking to sell the horn and because it was so Sag Harbor specific, he wanted to give the museum the first shot at acquisition. So he contacted the museum to see if they might be interested.

“We were,” admits Mr. Doctorow.

With no money up front, the collector agreed to send the horn to the museum for appraisal. It was around that time that Greg Fukutomi and Phoebe Barnard, museum members and part time Sag Harbor residents, stopped by the museum with friends Stephen and Karen Clark who were visiting from California.

“We love the Whaling Museum and we try to visit as much as possible when we have guests,” explains Ms. Barnard.

Both couples have great interest and experience in the arts, and when Mr. Fukutomi and Ms. Barnard introduced the Clarks to Mr. Therriault, Ms. Clark mentioned how impressed she was with the museum’s collection — especially the scrimshaw.

“I said, ‘You seem knowledgeable about whaling artifacts,’” recalls Mr. Therriault.

She certainly was.

In a strange bit of kismet, it turns out that Ms. Clark once worked at Sotheby’s Auction House where her specialty was Americana and maritime artifacts — specifically powder horns.

That’s when Mr. Therriault asked if the two couples would like to see the powder horn being considered for acquisition by the museum.

“They said, ‘We’d be thrilled to see it,’” he adds.

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Co-President Linley Pennebaker, Greg Fukutomi, Phoebe Barnard, and Museum Manager Greg Therriault.