Whaler's Hand Lance

Description
After harpoons fastened the whale and whaleboat together, a whale was given plenty of time and rope to dive, try to swim away, and otherwise wear itself out. Once the exhausted animal returned to the surface to breathe, the whaleboat approached it, and a hand lance, also known as a killing iron, was used to actually dispatch the animal.
Hand lances had long shafts, to allow the point to penetrate deep into the whale’s body in search of the thick neck arteries. The tips of the killing irons were leaf or oval shaped and extremely sharp, so that they cut on the way in and on the way out, and were easier to remove and stab repeatedly. Cutting the neck arteries prevented the animal from deep diving and hastened its bleeding to death.
This nickel-plated example was manufactured and donated by Luther Cole of Fairhaven, Mass.
Object Name
harpoon, spear-type
Date made
1880s
maker
Cole, Luther
Physical Description
iron (overall material)
nickel-plated (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 70 3/8 in; x 178.7525 cm
Place Made
United States: Massachusetts, Fairhaven
ID Number
AG*056357
accession number
012326
catalog number
056357
subject
Work
Whaling
Transportation
Natural Resources
Cultures & Communities
Industry & Manufacturing
On the Water exhibit
event
The Development of the Industrial United States
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 Luther Cole
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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