Friends of the Collection Fund purchases

Sarah Sockbeson

Jason Brown

Penobscot basketmaker Sarah Sockbeson is known for her fine, detailed weaving, and beautiful use of color in her fancy baskets. This basket was “an experiment,” she told us when we purchased it. She used iridescent lacquer, painted onto the prepared ash splints, to create a basket that sparkles in blues, purples, and golds in the light. One of the things we look for when selecting pieces for the Abbe’s permanent collection is innovation-basketmakers and other artists trying something new blended with tradition, often to outstanding results, as can be seen in this little masterpiece.

Jason Brown’s childhood passion of making and selling jewelry has developed into a full-blown passion for jewelry design. While attending the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM, he learned the basics of metalsmithing and jewelry making. His path led him to a career in marketing, working with fine jewelry companies to promote and sell high end and designer items. His experience in the fine jewelry industry has blended with his passion to hand-create his own line of jewelry and from this, jbrown designs was created. This stunning necklace, titled Wabanaki Elegance is hand forged from copper and represents the fundamental element of Wabanaki design known as the double curve.

Both of these were museum purchases, made possible by the Friends of the Collection Fund.

An Abbe Museum collections mystery SOLVED!

Way back in 1932, Maine folklorist Fannie Hardy Eckstorm published The Handicrafts of the Modern Indians of Maine, Abbe Museum Bulletin III (actually, in 1932 we were still the Lafayette National Park Museum, but that is another story…). In this book she included a photo of a stunning birchbark box from the collection of Walter M. Hardy (her brother).

Decades later in 2003 the Abbe reprinted Eckstorm’s book. We set out to get updated color photos of the pieces featured, but were unable to find this particular piece at the museums with similar collections we contacted. Another decade passed, and in 2012 we got an email from the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, asking if we could tell them anything about a birchbark box they had in there collection, with a photo attached. It was the missing box! Which it turns out had not really been missing, but in the fine care of the Farnsworth since 1952. Another year passes, and we receive a letter from the Farnsworth, informing us that they had decided to deaccession the box (along with another, smaller but as lovely) and transfer them to the Abbe. In May 2014, the transfer happened, and the boxes are now in their new permanent home at the Abbe. The box is thought to be Penobscot, and dates to sometime before 1840.