This is a very rare hinged darting gun manufactured either by Ebenezer Pierce, or his nephew and successor in the gun making business, Frank E. Brown. The darting gun was invented and patented by Pierce, a whaleman, and Whaling Master from New Bedford, in 1865. It revolutionized the whaling industry. The original darting guns, had a serious defect however, as they were muzzle loaders, and the barrel had to be screwed off for reloading, which was very tedious and time consuming. That problem was eliminated in 1882 with the development by Pierce of the hinged gun, which was now a cartridge fired firearm. Examples of this style are very hard to find.
This example is of brass, 17-3/4 in. long. Its bore is 7/8 in. It is mounted on a hand hewn, hardwood pole which has two deep grooves cut crosswise about 7” behind the attachment to the gun probably indicating the 2nd, or Larboard whaleboat. The total length of gun and pole is 81-1/4”.
The gun’s socket has the old grafted hitch still present, about 2 in. in length. The remainder of the gun’s warp has been lost. Three elements, namely, the brass and leather plate covering the hammer, the brass removable hinge pin, and the iron trigger rod, which are frequently missing or in need of repair, have been professionally replicated.
The gun is furnished with an antique bomb lance made by Daniel Kelleher, a bomb lance maker of New Bedford, active in that business from 1887 to 1908. It is complete with an empty Winchester No. 8 cartridge. The gun is unsigned, but there is a numeral 1 on one side of the lock case - probably a serial number.