A swivel-mounted harpoon gun improved from an earlier 18th Century design, the Greener Harpoon Gun was first introduced in 1837 and used for decades beyond as the first truly successful harpoon gun. It revolutionized the whaling industry at a time when whale ships were sailing farther and longer in search of their targets. These guns saw much use by American and British whalers in the Arctic and Pacific Oceans, where the great herds of Grey, Sperm and Right Whales were hunted.
A greener harpoon gun would be mounted to the working whale boat and a line attached to the metal sliding ring on the split-shank harpoon would be tied back to the craft. The gun made catches possible which had escaped the whalemen of earlier ages, with its range of up to 84 yards, and capable of firing over the obstacle of solid ice in the arctic. Large grain gunpowder would be used for the percussion cap weapon to ensure a slower, steady burn, giving a smoother flight for the harpoon, especially in calm lagoons and shallows.
This particular gun is an early one by maker William Bruce of Victoria Dock, Dundee, Scotland. The heavy iron barrel is capped with a thick brass sighting rail with this information deeply cast into the run, finished in a sighting point. It also has a period, double-toggle head iron harpoon used in these guns. Bruce would emigrate to New York in 1849, leaving Scotland behind, quite possibly taking up in the whaling industry himself, although that hasn't been established yet. Altogether, this is an exemplary artifact of whaling's yesteryear.
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