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Whaling bomb lance

Date: c 1850
Dimensions:
Overall: 21 x 431 x 21 mm, 0.55 kg
Medium: Iron
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Lance
Object No: 00003710

User Terms

    Description
    The hand-held shoulder gun was used in whaling during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The projectile was a bomb lance or whaling bomb, which exploded when it hit the whale.
    SignificanceThis whaling lance is typical of the 18th and 19th century whaling period in the Southern Seas.
    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.

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