This darting gun, in the style invented and patented by Ebenezer Pierce in 1865, is the most complete example we have ever seen. It appears like it has just come out of the hold of a whale ship including the harpoon sheath covered in sailcloth, rope and wood pieces which are usually lost.
Darting guns were made to fasten to and kill the whale in one strike. The gun was mounted on a standard harpoon pole, as seen here, and hand thrown at close range. A bomb lance was loaded into the gun barrel. A long plunger rod acted as the trigger- once the harpoon had been lodged deep enough it would trigger the firing mechanism of the bomb lance, killing the whale instantly.
The harpoon itself was made in the same period by blacksmith Luther Cole, and the harpoon is marked COLE on the head as shown in the photos. Cole worked as a blacksmith from the age of 17 working in the New Bedford shops of other master smiths until he moved to Fairhaven to strike out on his own sometime between 1859 and 1865.
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