Small fragment of white china teacup.

A small fragment of broken teacup from the 1845 British Northwest Passage Expedition led by Sir John Franklin. Larger fragments are AAA2263 and AAA2264.

Fragments of teacup were retrieved from the area around the cairn near an abandoned camp site at Cape Felix, King William Island, on two search expeditions. The first was by Lieutenant William R. Hobson's sledge team on 3 May 1859 as part of the search expedition led by Captain F. L. McClintock, and the second was by Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka on 3 July 1879 during his search expedition. It is not known which of these expeditions this fragment is from. However, 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]. William Gilder on Schwatka's expedition recorded in his account '..while a piece of an ornamented china tea-cup, and cans of preserved potatoes showed that it was in charge of an officer.' [Gilder, 'Schwatka's search; sledging in the Arctic in quest of the Franklin records' (1882), p133].

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 was possibly displayed at the Royal Naval Museum, Greenwich, in Case 7, No. 8 'Pieces of china, clay pipes &c... The item is not 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.

Object Details

ID: AAA2265
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 25 x 18 mm

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