Three wire shot cartridges

Three empty wire short cartridges (shot concentrators) from the 1845 British Northwest Passage Expedition led by Sir John Franklin. The cartridges originally would have had a paper covering and been filled with small lead shot. The patent for these wire cartridges was held by Eley Brothers & Co, 36 St James's Street and Old Bond Street, London.

The wire cartridges were found by Lieutenant William R. Hobson's sledge team on 3 May 1859 under a small collapsed tent, possibly for the officers, at an abandoned camp site at Cape Felix, King William Island, as part of the search expedition led by Captain F. L. McClintock. However, Hobson does not specifically mention cartridges [Stenton, 'Arctic' v.69, No. 4, p. 515]. McClintock recorded 'a few patent wire cartridges containing large shot' [McClintock, 'Voyage of the Fox' (1860), p.368]. The camp site was occupied by about twelve officers and men from the Franklin expedition during the summer of 1847, living in three small tents. They were probably engaged in surveying, scientific work or hunting while the expeditions ships remained trapped in the ice. The site was apparently abandoned in a hurry - Hobson found the tents flattened with blankets and bear skins underneath. He concluded that, as the party had left behind so much of their equipment, they had probably gone back to the ships.

The cartridges were possibly displayed in the Royal Naval Museum, Greenwich, in Case 2, No. 86 & 87 'Cartridges'. The items are also shown in - 'Stereoscopic slides of the relics of Sir John Franklin's Expedition' photographed by Lieutenant Cheyne RN, at the United Services Museum, Whitehall, No. 7 (in the tray, centre right).

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