A fragment of a white teacup with a blue and red rim.

A fragment of broken teacup from the 1845 British Northwest Passage Expedition led by Sir John Franklin. The cup was made of glazed porcelain with a broad blue rim band with a thin red line each side.

The fragment of teacup was found by Lieutenant William R. Hobson's sledge team on 3 May 1859 around the cairn near an abandoned camp site at Cape Felix, King William Island, as part of the search expedition led by Captain F. L. McClintock. Hobson described 'several pieces of broken cups or basins, blue and white (china)...' [Stenton, 'Arctic' v.69, No. 4, p. 514]. McClintock recorded these items has having been left, describing them as 'several pieces of broken basins or cups, blue and white delftware,...' [McClintock, 'Voyage of the Fox' (1860), p.369]. 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 teacup fragment has a label '89' pasted to it, indicating that it was displayed at the Royal Naval Museum, Greenwich, in Case 2, No. 89 'Fragment of China'. 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 right, below the 2-ft rule).

Object Details

ID: AAA2264
Collection: Polar Equipment and Relics
Type: Teacup fragment
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: 3 x 52 x 35 mm

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