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Illustration by Juliet Jacobson

The cooper had an important role on a whaler. He made and repaired the wooden casks, into which all of the oil was stored. The cooper used wooden staves and iron hoops to fashion casks. Casks were made in many sizes and for many uses. The largest sized oil casks held as much as 14 barrels, and the smallest held one barrel. As well as oil casks, the whaler used many other items made by coopers, including the line tub, water cask, bailing piggin and lantern keg in the whaleboats, and mess buckets, deck buckets, slush tubs, wash tubs, mincing tubs, draw buckets and more on the ship. He was a skilled hand and his share of the profits or lay would range from 1/45 to 1/60.

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