Ad for Whale Baleen Umbrellas

Whalers hunted right whales for baleen, which was used in a variety of commercial products such as umbrellas and whips.
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

Whale baleen, the stiff bristly mouthparts that sieve small prey from the water, was strong yet flexible, and was used to provide structure in many human products, including umbrellas, corsets, and whips. Right whales were easy, lucrative prey. However, it's not used anymore: this species is endangered, and hunting has been banned since 1935. Learn more about right whales in the Ocean Portal's Right Whale Section