Steel table knife with ivory handle

A steel-bladed table knife with an ivory handle from the 1845 British Northwest Passage Expedition led by Sir John Franklin. The handle of the knife has 'W.R.' carved into it. 'WR' could be the initials of William Reed R. M. of 'HMS Erebus' or William Rhodes the quartermaster of 'HMS Terror'. R. J. Cyriax thought that 'WR' stood for 'ward room'.The handle has a split in the side, and the blade is pitted with the edge corroded away.

The table knife found at the boat site in Erebus Bay by Captain F. L. McClintock's sledge team on 30 May 1859, as part of the search expedition led by McClintock The site had been visited and partially investigated by Lt. William Hobson on 24 May but his report does not list everything he saw or removed. McClintock records ’Two table knives with white handles - one is marked "W.R."...'. [McClintock, Voyage of the Fox (1859), page 366].

The knife was displayed at the Royal Naval Museum, Greenwich, Case 2, No. 97. 'Table knives, one marked W.R. '. 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. 5 (bottom left next to the gimlet).

Object Details

ID: AAA2207
Collection: Polar Equipment and Relics
Type: Knife
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: Erebus (1826); Fox (1855) Terror (1813)
Date made: Before 1845
People: Reed, William; Rhodes, William
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.
Measurements: Overall: 15 x 165 x 16 mm

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