Search the Collection
Advanced Search
Image Not Available

Whaling Adventure - the Flurry

Date: 1859
Dimensions:
Overall: 195 x 294 mm, 40 g
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Art
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00028363

User Terms

    Description
    This colour wood engraving shows a boat fastened to a whale with two harpoons, and the boat's captain at the bow ready to lance the whale.

    This illustration accompanied a first hand account of the hunting and killing of an aggressive sperm whale off Australia. The account was written by a young sailor named Peter L Dumont who was on his first whaling voyage aboard the whaleship MONMOUTH of Cold Spring Harbour New York.

    Dumont describes the scene:

    The huge creatures shot round and made a straight wake for the boat, apparently bent on crushing us to death in the mad and blind fury. But he missed his object, and threw himself directly across the bow of our boat. The captain, whose keen eye had followed his every motion, sparng to his feat in an instant , and plunged his lance deep into the whale's gigantic side.

    Source: Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 26 March 1859, p. 259
    SignificanceAs one of a series of engravings that depict the various stages of a whale hunt, this illustration vividly captures the danger and drama of whaling and highlights the activities of an American whaleship hunting in Australian waters.
    HistoryDuring the 1800s whaling was a large scale commercial enterprise that was conducted across the globe. The main industry centred on the American north-east coastal town of New Bedford which saw hundreds of ships heading out to the Pacific Ocean on a weekly basis. Industry and households depended on whale products for which there was no substitute. Whale oil was used for lighting and lubrication until 1860 when kerosene and petroleum started to gain popularity. The pure clean oil from sperm whales was a superior source of lighting and the finest candles were made from the whale's wax-like spermaceti. Light and flexible, baleen - the bristle-fringed plates found in the jaws of baleen whales - had many uses in objects which today would be made out of plastic.

    In the 19th century American whalers sailed south to the rich Pacific whaling grounds in search of sperm whales. During the 1840s several hundred ships pursued whales off the coast of Australia. Many called into Australian ports for repairs or supplies after a voyage half-way around the world. Meeting a whaler was the first contact many colonists had with an American.

    Brothers John and Walter Jones of Cold Spring Harbor, New York, decided to branch out from their milling business into whaling as a response to foreign competition and high tax undercutting their profits. In 1836 they invested approximately $20,000 to buy the old 100-foot bark MONMOUTH, leaving for its maiden voyage from Cold Spring Harbor in July of that year. When MONMOUTH returned in May 1837 it carried an impressive 1,700 barrels of whale oil. After a successful first three years, the brothers formed the Cold Spring Whaling Company in 1839, built docks and enlarged the fleet. By 1852, the company owned nine vessels, however the long and expensive voyages to the Pacific hurt the company and other marginal ports. After the death of Walter in 1855 and John in 1859, the company wound down quickly, with the last ships returning in 1862.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: 'WHALING ADVENTURE - THE FLURRY: HE CAME RAPIDLY TOWARDS THE CAPTAIN'S BOAT, THROWING HUGE SHEETS OF WATER ON THE CREW AT EVERY SWEEP OF HIS GIGANTIC TAIL AND FILLING IT TO THE VERY BRIM'. A PAGE FROM `FRANK LESLIE'S MONTHLY'.

    Web title: Whaling Adventure - the Flurry

    Related People
    Artist: G P
    Engraver: Speer

    Discuss this Object

    Comments

    Please log in to add a comment.