On the Water

Whaler's Carved Bailer Handle

Whalemen used long-handled bailers to remove hot whale oil from large try-pots into cooling tanks, and from those tanks into storage barrels. They had long handles to prevent the handler from being splashed or burned with molten oil.

This example’s wooden handle has figures of whales whittled into its surface to indicate the number and species of mammals that crossed its greasy path. The “B.H.” refers to bowhead, “S” for sperm, “H.B.” for humpback, and “W” for right whale.

ID Number:
Place Made:
New Bedford, Massachusetts
83 3/4 in x 2 in x 5 in; 212.725 cm x 5.08 cm x 12.7 cm
Gift of Jonathan Bourne

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