Search the Collection
Advanced Search

Tongan war club belonging to Samuel Harris

Date: c 1846
Overall: 680 mm, 1.05 kg
Medium: Wood
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Club
Object No: 00015743
Place Manufactured:Tonga

User Terms

    Samuel Harris acquired this souvenir Tongan war club during a Pacific whaling voyage. As master of the American whale ship PHOEBE he visited Sydney and Hobart in 1846 to sell barrels of whale oil.
    SignificanceThis Tongan war club helps to demonstrate the presence of American whalers in Australian waters in the 19th century.
    HistoryIn 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.

    Whaling master Samuel Harris cleared Nantucket on September 19, 1842. Some four years and three months later on December 24, 1846, Harris and his crew made port at Pernambuco with a badly leaking ship. The ship was condemned at Pernambuco and the crew forced to abandon its mission. Whale oil valued at about $5,200 was sold at Pernambuco and Sydney, Australia. Additional whale oil and sperm oil worth about $42,000 was transferred to another vessel for transportation to Nantucket. Although their ship was lost through condemnation, Harris and his crew had obtained a large haul of oil.

    Discuss this Object


    Please log in to add a comment.