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The Island Whale

Publication type

Fine press and hand-illustration



Book Size

8.5 x 12 inches

Edition Size

25 copies (one copy left)


Few copies left.

In New England, the whaling logbook and journal were ubiquitous forms of maritime documentation in the 1700s up through the peak of the whale oil industry in the late 1800s, when it gave way to land-based petroleum drilling.

In her second book connecting historical document forms to contemporary environmental themes, designer and artist Anneli Skaar hand-illustrated 25 copies of The Island Whale in the format of a traditional whaling journal. A follow-up to the topic of climate refugeeism which is the basis for Nansen's Pastport, this time the book focuses on the topic of extraction and sea level rise through the allegory of nine ancient stories about whales mistaken for islands.

The text is printed with letterpress by Art Larson at Horton Tank Graphics, with typefaces created by Maine-based typeface designer Brian Willson of Three Island Press. The typeface "Schooner "is drawn from the handwriting of a Boston pastor from the 19th century, in a letter asking for alms for families who had men lost at sea. The title type "Geographica Hand" was created from the handwritten titling of a 18th century British mapmaker.

All of the illustrations are drawn with a pen nib using AirInk, an artists' ink extracted from air pollution, and were then hand-colored with watercolor. The book is bound with a leather spine by Amy Borezo of Shelter Bookworks, who also designed and engineered the unique ships' desk case. Along with the journal, one finds in the case a red paper rose, a paper feather pen, and an etched sperm whale tooth cast in plastic, all created by the artist. Throughout the publication is found custom marbled paper, pulled by Iris Nevins. The afterword was written by Nantucket historian Betsy Tyler.

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