Tracing History- A Whaling Relic

07 June 2024

This Whaling Stick WAS MADE BY B. MEIN. on board the Ship Fabius, Capt.n Chase, while cruising on the Coast of Peru ON A WHALING VOYAGE it contains 14 teeth taken out by himself and captured in the boat which he belonged to',

This whaler’s walking stick is a rare relic from a very different era, when perilous and lengthy voyages were undertaken to collect valuable Sperm whale oil used as a commodity – primarily for lighting and industrial lubricant but also in the manufacture of soap. Although thankfully no longer pursued, every element of these magnificent mammals was resourcefully used, even down to the teeth. These parts were often skilfully carved into decorative mementos of the voyage or even love tokens to back home sweet hearts to while away the hours. This particular stick records The Fabius, a typical whaling vessel from Nantucket, Massachusetts. Specific details of The Fabius are detailed in the ship’s log, written by the one of the Cooperman, Joseph U.Downing who sailed from 18 July 1840 to 13 April 1844. The master is Frederick B. Chase, who’s dates are noted from 1795 to 1873 and being interred in the Prospect Hill Cemetery, Nantucket ( 'Catalogue of Nantucket Whalers And Their Voyages From 1815 to 1870' by Hussey & Robinsons, published 1876.) Downing’s log records the voyages undertaken at this time to the far-flung Galapagos Islands, Cape Blanco, Charles Islands and back to Nantucket Mass. As the whales were hunted out of the gulf stream of the Atlantic waters, overseen by the sandy island base of Nantucket, it became standard for the 19th Century whalers to travel much further afield down the coast of South America amassing barrels of oil, whilst processing the blubber on board the vessels (hence the requirement of numerous Coopermen as crew). This fascinating journal can be seen through the Nantucket Historical Association digital archive where it is now kept (MS220 Log 384 see Whaling Jounal )

Journal from Nantucket historical Association digital archive
Journal from Nantucket historical Association digital archive
Lot 503
Lot 503