Cast Iron Whale

The words “BAKER NEW BEDFORD.” appear on the back of this cast-iron sperm whale, which has two mounting lugs on the bottom for fastening to a flat surface. These features suggest that it was a shop sign for one of the many stores in New Bedford, Massaschusetts that provided items to whalers needed for their dirty and dangerous business. In the 1878 New Bedford city directory, the only person listed with the surname Baker was Ansol Baker, a machinist.
New Bedford was the largest American whaling port in the industry, which flourished until the Civil War and lasted into the early 20th century.
Object Name
shop sign
Date made
19th century
possible owner of sign
Baker, Ansol
Physical Description
iron (overall material)
paint (overall material)
cast (overall production method/technique)
approx.: 20 in; x 50.8 cm
location where used
United States: Massachusetts
United States: Massachusetts, New Bedford
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
catalog number
related event
The Development of the Industrial United States
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
Cultures & Communities
Natural Resources
On the Water
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Related Publication
On the Water online exhibition
Publication URL
Additional Media

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