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Northern Whale Fishery

Date: March, 1829
Overall: 744 x 920 x 34 mm, 6 kg
Medium: Ink on paper, frame
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00008281
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    This engraving is after the painting 'The Whaling Bark Harmony in Arctic Waters' by William John Huggins. It shows the whaling bark HARMONY and other ships hunting in Davis Strait near Greenland. It captures the animals, climate and hunting techniques that are characteristic of arctic whaling.

    Whalers are shown hunting from the ship's boats, as well as on the icy shore. A whale is being processed along side HARMONY with several whale jawbones stacked and drying against the mainmast. Other marine mammals hunted in Northern waters including walrus, seals and narwhal are also depicted.
    SignificanceThis dramatic view of whaling vessels among the northern icebergs is an excellent illustration of the vast whaling grounds of the 19th century. American whale ships voyaged among the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific regions in search of valuable whales.
    HistoryDuring the 1800s whaling was a large scale commercial enterprise that was conducted across the globe. The main industry was centred on the American north-east coastal town of New Bedford which saw hundreds of ships heading out 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.

    Originally a trading vessel between American and China, the HARMONY wasn’t used as a whaling ship until the turn of the century. By 1803, the vessel was being used by British whalers, and in 1805 HARMONY was purchased by the whaler R Bell. In 1806, HARMONY caught 11 whales and returned with 360 butts of oil - one of the most successful ships of that year.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Northern Whale Fishery. A representation of the ship HARMONY of Hull and other vessels with their boats and crews

    Web title: Northern Whale Fishery

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