Home Drake Well Foundation About OilHistory.com The Author Contact
Whale Oil
Whale Oil Versus the Others
Whale Oil Uses
The Size of the Sperm Whale
Sperm Whale Head Anatomy
Sperm Whale Oil
Whale Oil Barrel
Historic Prices
Whalemen in the Oilfields
Whaling Control
Cia. Ballenera del Norte S.A.

Historic Prices

Like petroleum, the price of whale oil in the U.S. varied significantly from year to year, reflecting the amount of catch by the New England fleet and the condition of the times.

Over a span of 35 years which embraced the Civil War, whale oil ranged from 30 1/2¢ per gallon to $1.92 according to the following prices which are taken from Eaton's book, "Petroleum", 1866:



1/2  gallon



1/2  gallon



1/2  gallon



1/2  gallon

Another source mentions that the average price from 1845 to 1855 was $1.77 per gallon (Stotz, 1938).

In the war year 1864, the price per 35 gallon barrel was $67.20.  It is not known if this is sperm whale oil or oil from any species.

Robbins (1988) gave the following prices:







There were prices for two different oils.  For instance, regular whale oil (any species except the sperm whale) was lower while the actual sperm whale oil brought a better price in some circumstances.   The only example found in my sources is Singing Rock Press (1995?) which mentions $1.25/gallon for sperm whale oil and 43 cents per gallon for regular whale oil as sold by a particular ship in 1843. 


© 2004, Samuel T. Pees
all rights reserved