Circular powder case lid

The circular metal lid of a powder case from the 1845 British Northwest Passage Expedition led by Sir John Franklin. The lid is a push-on/pull off type, with a ring-pull handle on the top. The lid is stamped 'B' [Government broad arrow] 'O' for the Board of Ordnance.

The powder case lid was found by Lieutenant William R. Hobson's sledge team on 3 May 1859 at an abandoned camp site at Cape Felix, King William Island, as part of the search expedition led by Captain F. L. McClintock. Hobson mentioned it in his report: 'The lid, lock and key of a powder case with the Board of Ordnance mark,...' [Stenton, 'Arctic' v.69, No. 4, p. 515]. McClintock recorded it as '...metal lid of a powder case' [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 powder case lid was displayed at the Royal Naval Museum, Greenwich, Case 2, No. 40 'Top of powder case'.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 (bottom centre, under the boarding pike head).

Object Details

ID: AAA2140
Collection: Polar Equipment and Relics
Type: Powder case lid
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: 25 x 136 mm

Your Request

If an item is shown as “offsite”, please allow eight days for your order to be processed. For further information, please contact Archive staff:

Tel: (during Library opening hours)

Click “Continue” below to continue processing your order with the Library team.