Double Flue Whaling Harpoon from Sag Harbor Ship Xenophon
This is an early American double-flued whaling or “Arctic” iron in excellent condition with virtually no pitting and with original finish showing slight traces of red primer. On one side of the boss (between and behind the rear barbs) are the cold-chiseled letters of a ship's mark beginning with the letter “X” and ending with the letter “N”, with an illegible letter between. This would indicate the ship Xenophon of Sag Harbor, New York as there are only two ships in the records beginning with the letter X and the working dates of the other, the Xantho are too late for this style of harpoon. On the other side of the boss, there is a very clear maker’s mark, the letter “B”. Any other letters and or an ampersand which may have been part of this mark are now unreadable. OA length 39 1/2 in.; Length of head 4 1/4 in.; width between the rear barbs 3 1/4 in.
The Xenophon made 5 whaling voyages from Sag Harbor between1831 and 1842. The exceptional length of this iron, nearly 40 in., is further evidence of its early vintage. Double flue style whaling harpoons are scarce, as the industry began using toggle irons almost exclusively after the mid 19th century.
Note: In Nantucket on early whalecraft, single letters indicating maker's names are not uncommon. This may have been the case in Sag Harbor as well. The U.S. Federal Census for 1850 (the earliest date that identified occupations) lists 4 blacksmiths with names beginning with B in the two towns that makeup the village of Sag Harbor - 3 in Southhampton and 1 in Easthampton. It is therefore, not possible at this time to positively identify the maker of this iron.