|ALTON C. BEAUDOIN
Master Knotter and Merchant Seaman
1913 - 2003
|I never had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Beaudoin, something I regret deeply, but I had a teacher when I was a small
bouy whose skills paralleled those of Mr. B. This section is dedicated to him and his work and, as I find more pictures
of his works, I shall put them up here for perusal and to keep his memory. Should you have one of his pieces, please
|Knots of Respect
Mr. Beaudoin's son, Thomas, related a story to me that at one time the US Naval Academy's museum department had
dispatched a young officer to Mystic, CT, where Mr. Beaudoin for many years kept a shop across from the Mystic
Seaport, in order to attempt to identify a particularly ornate button knot which was in their collection.
Particularly, they wanted to know if anyone could figure out how it was tied and, not wanting
to "test to destruction" the "only extant example", they came to find if Mr. B. could help 'em out.
According to the story, the Lieutenant outlined the problem and asked Mr. B. if he could possibly
figure out how it had been tied.
Alton leaned back, took a puff on the pipe and pointed over his shoulder at a picture frame on the wall, saying,
"If you'll look over there, Sonny, I think you'll find about forty-eight of 'em."
Star Knot with Diamond Manrope Knot Triple-passed Star Knot Rose Knot
|(Click on any to enlarge picture)
|A knotted picture
frame, made by an
unknown knottyer for
the Seaman's Church
of NYC and containing
a picture of the Old
Date is unsure, but I'd
say it was made in the
1930's. It is featured as
plate 234 in "The
Knots and Fancy
Ropework (1943) by
Raoul Graumont and
I had been
misinformed that this
had been made by Mr.
Beaudoin, but later
that this was NOT one
of his. His son, Jim,
recently told me that
Mr. B DID make
several frames of a
similar, though more
His son, Tom, told me
that there is one frame
he made which is
60" x 84"!! This frame
is nowhere near that
(This picture is
already full size.)
|Belt by A.C. Beaudoin (1989) for George Haycraft
Click pics for detail
Eric Olson of The University Of Florida sent in the following:
"I met Mr. Beaudoin in 1990 I think it was, maybe 1989. My wife and I were visiting Mystic Seaport. We wanted lunch so we decided to
leave the seaport and walk around in town to find lunch. As we were walking down the Main Street (Greenmanville Ave.) we passed a
small house that had a board near the mail box with knots on it, including Turk's Head Bracelets. It had some type of greeting that led me
to go knock on the door. Something like 'Beaudoin's Rope Locker'.
His wife greeted us at the door and invited us in. At the time I was interested in Turk's Head Bracelets. Of course Mr. Beaudoin was
working on them as we spoke. He showed me his knots of respect on the wall. I also saw some of the picture frames. We talked about knots
and the lost art of tying them.
I bought a bracelet or two and a keychain from him. He told me that the keychain would last a long time because of the cord type. He was
right - I still have it somewhere! It was a great visit. He showed me his copy of the Encyclopedia of Knots (probably "the Encyclopaedia Of
Knots And Fancy Ropework" by Raoul Graumont and John Hensel... Cornell Maritime Press 1943.... still available!). Later that week I ordered
a copy from my local bookstore. I did not realize at the time what a celebrity he was! What a neat thing to just have happen!
I thought you might enjoy the story!
We do, Eric, and thank you very much for sending it!
From Charles Jacobus
I do not know what year it was when I visited the Seaman's Bank for Savings on Wall Street in New York City. I heard that they had
many examples of maritime America there, including some fine knot work picture frames. I only saw one and it is the one pictured in the
Encyclopedia of Knots and fancy Ropework by Graumont and Hensel. (see above)
Somewhere in the 1980's, having heard that Mr. Beaudoin had a working display there, we visited Mystic Seaport.
When we got to the ship model display, I asked a volunteer where the knot-tyer display was. He told me that gent had got very upset with
the people in charge and moved out. He then told me where he lived. (Right across the street!) Later in the day we left and found his house.
There was no car in the driveway and we saw some turkshead bracelets on the porch. While we were looking at the bracelets, they pulled
into the driveway and he came out and invited us in for coffee and doughnuts. Before the coffee was ready he took me into the dining
room. He was working on a very large picture frame and it was about 4 feet by 4 feet. It was about half-finished and what I saw was
extremely intricate and well-done. He had it setting on two saw horses. I asked him who he was making it for and he would not tell me.
While we were having coffee he had to go to the head (toilet) and while he was there his wife told us why he had left the Seaport. They
told him that whatever he made there belonged to the Seaport. She said he told them in plain English exactly what they could do with it.
She also showed us many newspaper clippings about his knot work. **
His wife stripped lampshades to the wires and did various weaves, sennits, etc., to create a new shade.
I showed him a few photos of my work. He just smiled. I got the message.
I feel honored to have met him and chatted with him.
Some of Mr. Jacobus' own work may be seen HERE... I feel sure that if Mr. Beaudoin was smiling, it was NOT in
dismissal, but rather in satisfaction at having found another knottyer whose work he could consider as more than competent.
Boats, you're much too modest!
** According to Jim Beaudoin, one of A.C.'s sons, A.C. never actually worked for the Seaport because of their
attitude toward work done on-premises, but that he'd had his business always at "Beaudoin's Rope Locker" across
from the Seaport. Well, I just wish I'd have been fortunate enough to have met him and seen the place.
Jim is a gold-caster and jewelry artist in his own right... guess what kind of jewelry he does? With any luck he may
let us see a few of his works as well. I am always fascinated how a certain skill-set often passes in a family.... Jim's
nephew, Matt (Tom's son), is also a marlinspike knotter, so it seems that the Beaudoins have a family "bent" toward
Here is Matt's current page and that will be changing as
soon as he finds a website designer to suit his needs.
Check out this wheel! Covered in rose knots, star
knots and wormed (with a fine braided line!) manila
and nylon rope around the outer and inner
chords of the wheel, you can see that the skills
HAVE passed down the line! Super!
(Click for larger pictures)