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Eben Pierce darting gun

Date: Late 19th century
Overall: 80 x 45 x 710 mm, 1.88 kg
Medium: Metal, twine, wood
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Dart gun
Object No: 00033895
Place Manufactured:United States

User Terms

    Late 19th century Eben Pierce darting gun, with dart, from the whaleship SUNBEAM L B.
    SignificanceThis Eben Pierce darting gun represents late 19th century American advancements in whaling technology.
    HistoryEarly killing methods were as dangerous to the crews as they were deadly to the whale. Hand-thrown harpoons merely attached a rope to the whale to stop it from escaping. Actual killing of the wounded and thrashing mammal was done at close range. A long lance pierced the lungs or heart for a slow death. Bomb lances were introduced with shoulder guns to solve the problem of getting close enough to a whale to lance it, particularly in ice fields, and eliminate the often hazardous lancing operation.

    The darting gun was invented in 1965 by Eben Pierce, a New Bedford whaler, master of the whaling bark JAMES ALLEN. The darting gun was mounted on a whaling harpoon pole and operated by firing a bomb lance at the whale, which was secured by a rope attaching the harpoon to the gun. Over the next nineteen years Pierce produced five further versions of his darting gun and four other versions of a darting gun were produced by other makers. The introduction of the darting gun produced greater yields for whalers.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Eben Pierce darting gun

    Primary title: DART GUN WITH DART

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