Foyn, Svend

Foyn, Svend
SUBJECT AREA: Ports and shipping
b. 1809 Tønsberg, Norway
d. after 1873
Norwegian founder of the modern whaling industry; sea captain and sealer.
Svend Foyn's background typified the best of the Norwegian merchant marine: good seamanship, deep religious faith and an investigative and adventurous approach to life based on sound commercial judgement. After the period of training normal to his time, Foyn became a shipmaster and then followed the sealer's trade. By the early 1860s he had amassed a considerable sum of money and began to look around for an area of further conquest. He built whale catchers and operated them with scientific care, and by 1862 his work was recognized in Norway, Scotland and some other countries as personifying the whaling industry. Foyn's inventive approach to this new trade ensured that innovative ideas were accepted and that his inventions—such as the rubber accumulator, the recoil absorber and the harpoon braking system—became an accepted part of the whaler's trade. It is said that his first harpoon gun, invented in 1864, weighed 1 ton. Foyn designed a special whaling winch in 1873 that was protected by patent, the same year that the Norwegian Government granted him a ten-year monopoly on his system for catching whales.
Further Reading
J.H.Harland, 1992, Catchers and Corvettes, the Steam Whalecatcher in Peace and War 1860–1960, Rotherfield, East Sussex: Jean Boudriot.
P.Budker, 1958, Whales and Whaling, London: Harrap.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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