Whaling guns and bomb lances
Whales and Whaling pictures
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Top left picture - Fig. 1, 2, 3, 4. Pierce bomb-lance Fig. 5. Pierce and Eggersbreech-loading gun.
Top right picture - Fig. 1. English harpoon-gun and gun-harpoon now in use on Scotch whalers Fig. 2. An early form of English whaling-gun Fig. 3, 4, 5. Mason and Cunningham mounting boat-gun; a recent invention.
Bottom picture - Pierce and Cunningham darting-gun; a combined harpoon and lance Used largely by Arctic whalemen. Fig. 2. Cunningham and Cogan gun Length, 33 inches; weight, 27 pounds; used by Arctic whalers with bomb lance Fig. 3. Brand muzzle-loading whaling-gun and bomb lance.
Various firearms were brought into play to try and kill whales more efficiently and to avoid having to approach an injured and dangerous whale too closely. These were used with varying degrees of success, though none were as reliable as the old-fashioned method of dispatching the whale using a heavy wooden handled lance wielded by an experienced man.
It wasn't until 1864 when Swede Sven Foyn invented the heavy explosive harpoon that could hit a whale 50yds that the hand harpoon was finally replaced.
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Picture used courtesy NOAA