A glimpse into whaling history
In the early years of the fishery, bowheads -- which can reach 65 feet in length and weigh more than 100 tons -- were doubly valuable to whalemen. The whales' exceptionally thick layer of blubber produced enormous quantities of oil used for lighting and lubrication; and the pliable baleen in their mouths, which whalemen called whalebone, put the hoop in hooped skirts and gave form to stomach-tightening corsets.
In 1870 baleen fetched 85 cents per pound; a decade later it had risen to $2. Then in 1891 it shot up to $5.38 per pound, and in 1904 it reached an all-time high of $5.80. As The
From the Boston Globe