Cargo Hook

Hand-held cargo hooks were the indispensable tools of longshoremen working on conventional (non-containerized) freighters. In the course of loading and discharging cargo they needed to grab, lift, and move various types and sizes of bags, boxes, and bales. The hooks, held firmly in a gloved hand, extended their reach and helped them lift heavy items. Most longshoremen owned several different types of hooks for moving different materials—from burlap sacks to wooden boxes—and altered the handles to suit their grip.
This lightweight, metal hook consists of a rounded handle and a shaft that ends in a disk embedded with five short points. This is the type of hook used for lifting burlap bags filled with coffee, sugar, grain, or rice into a sling or onto a pallet. Donor Herb Mills used this hook during his career as a longshoreman in San Francisco. Mills was a member of Local 10 of the ILWU—the International Longshore and Warehouse Union—from 1963 to 1992.
date made
ca 1960
used date
ca 1960-1990
Associated Place
United States: California
overall: 4 5/8 in x 3 1/2 in x 1 1/2 in; 11.7475 cm x 8.89 cm x 3.81 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Herb Mills
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
America on the Move
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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