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Toggle harpoon

Date: 19th century
Dimensions:
Overall: 36 x 720 x 173 mm, 1.05 kg
Medium: Steel
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Harpoon
Object No: 00006566

User Terms

    Description
    This single barbed harpoon features a curved tip and stop withers, reverse barbs added to the tips of the harpoon. It was a hand held harpoon which would have been used from an open whale boat. The stop withers prevented the harpoon from being shaken out of the whale.
    SignificanceThis single barbed harpoon is an example of the types of handheld implements used in whaling during the 19th century.
    HistoryUntil 1860, 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: Toggle harpoon

    Assigned title: single barbed harpoon

    Collection title: Tilbrook collection

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