On the Water

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, Mass. 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.

ID Number:
Place Made:
Massachusetts, New Bedford
paint, metal, iron
19th century
approx.: 20 in.; 50.8 cm

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