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Ram rod for Greener harpoon gun

Date: 1860s
Overall: 1070 mm, 1.7 kg
Medium: Steel.
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Ramrod
Object No: 00000041

User Terms

    Double ended steel ram rod for the Greener gun (00000039). It was made by W. Fowler of Peterhead, Scotland in 1868. William Greener devised the swivel mounted Greener Gun in 1837. The gun was mounted on the bow of a whaleboat and fired harpoons at whales.
    Steel ram at one end for loading gun powder, screw at the other for cleaning.
    SignificanceThis harpoon gun and accompanying ram rod is typical of the 1860s 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.

    Harpoon firing guns became standard from the 1850s. The Greener gun was regarded as the best of the open whaleboat guns. It was mounted on a swivel base in the bow and fired double barbed steel harpoons. William Greener of Birmingham, England, devised the method in 1837. The mechanism for firing usually consisted of a hammer that struck a pair of percussion caps.

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