Whaler's Allen's Gun Harpoon

Description
In the later 19th century, guns with explosive charges shooting the harpoons took the place of hand tools for catching and killing whales. They were much safer, for they could be shot at a whale from greater distances than a hand lance could be applied. They also penetrated the whale’s skin deeper and were harder for the animal to dislodge.
Gun harpoons were also far more efficient, for the steam whalers could approach the prey directly and did not need labor-intensive whaleboats and their highly trained crews any longer.
Designed to be fired from a shoulder gun, this nonexplosive style of harpoon was invented by Oliver Allen of Norwich, Conn. to fasten to whales prior to killing.
Object Name
harpoon
date made
mid-1800s
harpoons replaced hand tools
late 19th century
patentee
Allen, Oliver
inventor
Allen, Oliver
Physical Description
iron (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 45 in x 4 in x 4 in; 114.3 cm x 10.16 cm x 10.16 cm
Place Made
United States: Massachusetts, New Bedford
ID Number
AG*056230
catalog number
056230
accession number
012333
patent number
5949
subject
Whaling
Transportation
Natural Resources
Work
Cultures & Communities
Industry & Manufacturing
On the Water exhibit
event
Expansion and Reform
See more items in
Work and Industry: Fisheries
On the Water exhibit
Exhibition
On the Water
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
U.S. Fish Commission through J. T. Brown
referenced
Brown, James Temple. The Whale Fishery and Its Appliances
Publication title
On the Water online exhibition
Publication URL
http://americanhistory.si.edu/onthewater

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