Woollen mitten or glove

The fragments of a knitted woollen mitten or glove from the 1845 British Northwest Passage Expedition led by Sir John Franklin. The engraving in the 'Illustrated London News' 15 October 1859, shows the glove almost intact an elaborately patterned with a Scandinavian design. The gloves are likely to have been bought in one of the Danish settlements in Greenland. The glove is also intact in contemporary stereoscopic photographs.

The woollen glove was one of a number found by Lieutenant William R. Hobson's sledge team on 3 May 1859 as part of the search expedition led by Captain F. L. McClintock. The 'mitts' were located under a small collapsed tent, possibly for the officers, and the two larger tents at an abandoned camp site at Cape Felix, King William Island, Hobson lists '...several old mitts and stockings..' [Stenton, 'Arctic' v.69, No. 4, p. 515]. McClintock recorded it as ''...worsted glove, colours red, white and blue' [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 glove was displayed at the Royal Naval Museum, Greenwich, in Case 2, No. 24 'Worsted mitten'. 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. 7 (bottom right centre with unreadable label).

Object Details

ID: AAA2126
Collection: Polar Equipment and Relics
Type: Glove
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: Before 1845
People: Hobson, William Robert
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.
Measurements: 165 x 100 mm

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