Story: Economy and the environment

Sperm-whale oil candles (2nd of 2)

Sperm-whale oil candles

Whale oil was an early New Zealand export. The white spermaceti oil in the head cavity of sperm whales was a valuable commodity, as it could be turned into high-quality candles. They burned with a bright white light and were odourless. The candles shown here are held in the Whanganui Museum, and were made by Prices, the leading candle manufacturers in Victorian Britain. Most of their candles were made from coconut oil, palm oil and paraffin wax, but these whale-oil candles were top of their line.

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Whanganui Regional Museum

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How to cite this page:

Eric Pawson, 'Economy and the environment - An economy based on the environment', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/object/21644/sperm-whale-oil-candles (accessed 2 July 2022)

Story by Eric Pawson, published 11 Mar 2010