NEW !!!! For a preview of my new book about Captain Jason Seabury, New Bedford whaleship Monongahela, reported to have captured a Sea Serpent in the Pacific Ocean on Jan. 13, 1851, see www.TomLytle.com. This is a true story gathered from several documented accounts, but what is the truth? I would appreciate your comments on the guest board on that site. Thanks.
The term whalecraft encompasses all those tools used for taking whales and processing blubber into whale oil through the nineteenth century. Included are the whaling implements employed by hand on wooden hull sail-powered whaling vessels around the world. The last whaling voyage in the United States was by the whaling schooner John R. Manta in 1925. That voyage marked the end of the hand harpoon and whalecraft as presented here.
Basic Harpoon designs; two-flue, single-flue, Temple iron and toggle iron. Author's collection
This web site includes whalecraft, the development of harpoons and other whaling implements, information about the men who designed them, made them and those who used them. Also included, to complete the picture, are illustrations and descriptions of the use of the various items of whalecraft and methods of the whale fishery.
This is not an official web site of the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Several years ago I wrote the book, Harpoons and Other Whalecraft published in 1984 by the New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, Massachusetts, and reprinted in 2005. The museum has graciously granted permission to use material from that book on this web site. Visitors to this site are encouraged to visit the New Bedford Whaling Museum web site at http://www.whalingmuseum.org, or by clicking on the museum's logo at the right. All photos of whalecraft on this site are courtesy of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, unless otherwise specified. The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC has also granted permission for use of information and illustrations they provided for the book initially. All illustrations identified as such are courtesy of History of Technology Division, NMAH, Smithsonian Institution.
The Links page has links to other whaling and maritime museums around the world. I encourage your input to expand this list.
The goal of this web site is to present a complete collection of whalecraft and related information from around the world for research and education. It is also to capture and preserve this information before it is lost in time. Toward that goal, all museums, collectors, researchers, students and historians around the world are encouraged to submit whatever relevant information and illustrations they can. The result will be a growing collection of whalecraft and related information for all to share. Whaling was international; whaleships met on the open oceans of the world and exchanged ideas, information, whalecraft designs and indeed the implements themselves. Therefore, the subject of whalecraft is not really complete without examples, information and illustrations from the whaling countries around the world. Please send any information and illustrations you may have so they can be included here. Proper credit will be given, of course.
Please any questions, comments or information.
tom (at) whalecraft (dot) net
Please note that this web site is not a commercial site. I will not accept any advertising. I do not seek any fees of any kind. Values and prices of any whalecraft items will not be presented or discussed on the site.
Click on a whale stamp for the general topic, or on a specific topic :
Capturing and processing whales indicating whalecraft used
Basic timeline for major whaling events.
Two flue --- Single flue --- Toggle --- Explosive --- Poison
(click on the whale stamp image HARPOONS for general information, or a following topic for specific information on that harpoon type, teo flue, single flue, toggle, explosive or poison)
Non-explosive, Explosive, Poison
Boat spades, Cutting-in, Sliver, Throat, Head, Gouge
Boarding knives, Mincing knives, Leaning knives
Greener Guns, Harpoons and Bomb Lance
Shoulder Guns and Bomb Lances
Shoulder Gun Harpoons
Markings found on whalecraft
U.S. Patents for Whalecraft: 1790 - 1925
Books on Whaling
Whaling and Maritime Museums Internationally
What Whalecraft Is and Is Not. (Includes farm tools, fakes, reproductions, and how to identify them)
I need your input. Please send e-mail with your comments and suggestions. If possible, please let me know whether or not you may have something to contribute .
Full credit will be given for any material contributed, unless you wish otherwise.
This site was last updated January 2, 2008.