Brief History of The James Driggs Shop

Arc and Hammer came to fruition through the James Driggs Shipsmith in Mystic, CT. Starting her apprenticeship at age 15 Shelby began learning the ropes of traditional blacksmithing at an early age. I hope you enjoy the brief history of where it all began. 

If New England history intrigues you and you’re looking for somewhere to go this weekend, visit the James Driggs Shipsmith shop at Mystic Seaport. The Mystic Seaport (Mystic, CT) is the largest maritime museum in the United States complete with a 19th-Century maritime village consisting of over 60 historic buildings, all of which have been meticulously restored.

 

One of those 60 historic buildings is the James Driggs Shipsmithing Shop, a business that barely succeeded an era of Yankee Whaling, but held on until 1925 in New Bedford, MA on Homers Wharf until it was sold to the seaport, it’s forever home alongside The Morgan, a 19th century whaling ship that the company produced the tools and hardware for.

 

The original business was formed in 1846 by Driggs and a co-worker Joseph Dean. The two apprenticed together at the James Durfee Company, which also produced hardware and tools for the Whaling industry.

 

Once off on their own, the two operated out of a shop adjacent to a textile mill, with five forges and up to 3 apprentices at a time, the two stayed in business for nearly 30 years, before Dean’s retirement in 1875. Driggs stayed in production at that shop for 10 years following, before building the smaller shop now on display at the maritime museum.

 

Upon Driggs retirement, he sold his business and building to Ambrose J. Peters and sadly died shortly after. Peter’s operated the business until his death in 1918, when his brother took over, only to find that the Whaling Industry was steadily declining. Over the years, the shop provided much of the hardware and tools for The Charles W. Morgan, a whaling ship that now also resides at the Seaport.


For more information on The James Driggs Shipsmithing Shop at the Mystic Seaport and Maritime Museum, visit their website here: http://mysticseaport.org