A scaleboard is the draught or plan for the construction of a vessel, but instead of being on paper is on wood.
The scaleboard, found in the Maxwell House, is a wooden plank scribed in the early 1700's with what was authenticated in 1978 by William A. Baker, curator of the MIT Hart Nautical Museum, as "the oldest known shipbuilder's draught of an American vessel." The board was probably the plan for a sloop-rigged craft used for local trading on Narragansett Bay.
Because scaleboards were commonly burned for firewood after they were of no further use to the designer-builder, this is the only known scaleboard remaining in the United States. It had been used to repair the attic floor in the Maxwell House. The house is located in the heart of what for centuries has been a shipbuilding area in Warren. It was discovered when the second floor ceiling was being restored, exposing the underside of the attic floor.
Reprints of William A. Baker's article, "Garret Archaeology", THE AMERICAN
NEPTUNE, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 3, 1978, describing the scaleboard, are available at
The Maxwell House or by mail at a cost of $2.50 to cover handling and postage sent
to The Massasoit Historical Association, Post Office Box 203, Warren, Rhode Island, 02885.
Maxwell House Home Page