A steel-rimmed snow goggle eyepiece, with a slitted willow lens.

Half of a pair of steel-rimmed spectacles converted to snow goggles from the 1845 British Northwest Passage Expedition led by Sir John Franklin. Only the left eyepiece remains, the lens has been replaced by a circular, concave piece of willow with a slit across the centre. This was intended to cut down the glare from the snow and prevent snow blindness. The bridge of the spectacles is padded with thread.

The snow goggle was 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. Hobson described it as '...the remains of a pair of spectacles,..' [Stenton, 'Arctic' v.69, No. 4, p. 515]. McClintock recorded it as 'part of a pair of steel spectacles, glass being replaced by wood, having a narrow slit in it' [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 converted spectacles were displayed at the Royal Naval Museum, Greenwich, in Case 2, No. 52 'Part of a pair of steel spectacles'. The item is 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. 11 (top left , to the right of the pork bones).

Object Details

ID: AAA2125
Collection: Polar Equipment and Relics
Type: Snow goggles
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Unknown
Events: Arctic Exploration: Franklin's Last Expedition, 1845-1848; Arctic Exploration: Franklin Search Expedition, McClintock, 1857-1859
Vessels: Fox (1855)
Date made: circa 1845-47
People: Hobson, William Robert
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.
Measurements: 70 x 38 mm

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