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Wooden harpoon cover

265 x 100 x 40 mm, 0.2 kg
Medium: Wood, fabric, paint
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Harpoon cover
Object No: 00039839

User Terms

    This triangular shaped wooden cover was used to protect the head of a toggle whaling harpoon. It helped to prevent the tip from breaking or becoming dull. The toggle head on a harpoon stopped the harpoon from pulling free once it hit the whale.
    SignificanceThis harpoon cover is an example of the types of items used in whaling during the 19th and 20th century.
    HistoryUntil the introduction of the harpon gun in the 1850s whaling was an extraordinarily dangerous occupation. Whales were hunted from small open boats by men often only armed with hand-held harpoons and killing lances. The hand-thrown harpoon (or iron) was used merely to attach the rope to the whale resulting in an angry, wounded whale. This would more often than not end with the whaleboat and its crew being towed by the whale in an effort to rid itself of the pain inflicted by the harpoon. This was referred to by American whalers at the 'Nantucket Sleighride'.

    For more than 200 years, whaling was a vital industry around the world. It was the source of many important products which could not be found or produced elsewhere at the time. It also provided tens of thousands of men and their families with a livelihood.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Wooden harpoon cover

    Assigned title: Harpoon cover

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