Whaler's Fluke Lance

Description
The most dangerous act in the dangerous business of whaling was “spading flukes.” The whaleboat drew up close alongside a desperate, unpredictable whale on the water surface, and a crewman used a boat spade or fluke lance to sever the whale’s tail tendons. This effectively immobilized the prey, for the whale couldn’t swim without its tail.
According to James Temple Brown, who wrote the 1883 catalog of the Smithsonian’s whaling collection, the fluke lance was exceedingly rare and was regarded as “a monstrosity by all the fraternity”. This rare inscribed example was used aboard the starboard whaleboat of the bark Sea Fox.
Object Name
lance
Fluke Lance
Date made
ca 1880-1889
authored whaling reference material
Brown, James Temple
maker
Driggs, James D.
Physical Description
iron (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 3 1/2 in x 59 3/4 in x 1 1/2 in; 8.89 cm x 151.765 cm x 3.81 cm
Place Made
United States: Massachusetts, New Bedford
ID Number
TR*056358
catalog number
056358
accession number
012298
subject
Whaling
Transportation
Natural Resources
Cultures & Communities
Industry & Manufacturing
Work
On the Water exhibit
event
The Development of the Industrial United States
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
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 James D. Driggs
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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