On the Water

Whaler's Shoulder or Darting Gun

By the later 19th century, guns had replaced most hand harpoons and lances, since they were far more efficient and deadly to the prey. They also could be shot from a safer distance from the prey than the hand tools could be wielded. The darting gun was one of the more popular types. Loaded with different darts, this versatile weapon could be used both for harpooning and killing whales.

This particular gun was displayed at the 1883 International Fisheries Exhibition in London, England. After the display ended, it was donated to the Smithsonian by its inventor, Capt. Eben Pierce of New Bedford, Mass.

ID Number:
Pierce, Eben
Place Made:
New Bedford, Massachusetts
metal, bronze
7 in x 37 1/2 in x 2 1/4 in; 17.78 cm x 95.25 cm x 5.715 cm
F. Gilbert Hinsdale

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