Try pot

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Try pots on display at the Southampton Historical Museum

A try pot is a large pot used to remove and render the oil from blubber obtained from cetaceans and pinnipeds, and also to extract oil from penguins.[1] Once a suitable animal such as a whale had been caught and killed, the blubber was stripped from the carcass in a process known as flensing. The raw blubber was then cut into pieces and heated in the try pots to extract the oil.

Early on, oil was rendered from blubber in try pots onshore, not on ships at sea.[2] Later, though, whaling vessels frequently included a trywork, a brick furnace and set of try pots built into the deck. In the 18th- and 19th-century New England whaling industry, the use of the trywork allowed ships to stay at sea longer and boil out their oil. The slices of blubber were kept as thin as possible for the process, and on New England whaling ships, these slices were called "bible leaves" by the sailors.[3]

The use of an onboard trywork was the major technological innovation that enabled the success of the Yankee whaling industry.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A Whaling Trypot", National Maritime Museum, London
  2. ^ Tower, W.S. (1907). A History of the American Whale Fishery. University of Philadelphia.. Cf. pp.26-27, 95.
  3. ^ Cf. Moby-Dick, Chapter 95, "The Cassock", footnote 1.
  4. ^ "Overview of American Whaling" Archived 2010-04-07 at the Wayback Machine, New Bedford Whaling Museum, New Bedford, Massachusetts

Further reading[edit]