Whaling Harpoon Gun & Harpoon
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British

Circa 1850
54 Inches Overall Length with 1 ½ Inch Bore
Cast Engraved on Sighting Ridge: W.W. GREENER BIRMINGHAM  
   

Whaling Harpoon Gun & Harpoon
 
(by William Greener of Birmingham- Gun number 2)
⚈ Sold

Circa 1850
54 Inches Overall Length with 1 ½ Inch Bore
Cast Engraved on Sighting Ridge: W.W. GREENER BIRMINGHAM  
   

A swivel-mounted harpoon gun improved from a less successful 18TH Century design, the Greener 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 last 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, numbered ‘2’, of two such weapons once onboard the Steam Schooner KARA, owned by Sir Henry Gore of Lissadell House, Ireland. Gore was a renowned “big-game hunter” and arctic exploer. The Steam yacht KARA was built in 1882 especially for arctic navigation and to function as a whaling ship. It is our belief that both of these guns were manufactured earlier in the century and reconditioned after previous ownership for KARA and Gore. The artifact is completed with the very rare-style toggle-head iron harpoon marked specifically for KARA by its maker, J.C. King of Peterhead. He borrowed directly from the designs of Charles Randall the improvements to the swivel-barb irons, intended to keep the massive dart imbedded in its prey. It is further completed with its original iron yoke and wood base which were actually part of the whaling schooner, rather than the traditional employment of such a harppon gun on the bow of a whale boat. An exemplary artifact of whaling’s yesteryear.