Story: Whales

Sperm oil candles

Sperm oil candles

The white spermaceti oil in the head cavity of sperm whales was a valuable commodity, much sought after by whalers, 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. Since most of their candles were derived from coconut oil, palm oil and, increasingly, paraffin wax, these ones were top of their line.

Using this item

Whanganui Regional Museum

Permission of the Whanganui Regional Museum must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Gerard Hutching, 'Whales - Sperm whale', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/object/7097/sperm-oil-candles (accessed 17 November 2018)

Story by Gerard Hutching, published 12 Jun 2006