Harpoon Head from the Bark OSPREY
harpoon headWHALING GEAR - HARPOONS
Butts, P. and Son
Overall: 32 x 2 7/8 x 1 1/2 in.
Steel, non-toggle barb, harpoon head. The harpoon is marked "Osprey" and probably dates to 1857. (OSPREY was a bark from New Bedford that sailed from 1857. She was owned by William Rotch, from Nantucket, MA). The shaft of the harpoon is stamped "F.(P.) BUTTS & SON".
Often, regular arrowhead-shaped harpoons pulled out of whales, letting them escape. About 1840, whalemen developed this single-flue harpoon, which was meant to bend and anchor the harpoon in the whale. Even better was the toggle style invented by the African American shipsmith Lewis Temple, with a head that turned to lock it in the whale�s body.