Wooden staves from an oak vinegar keg

The oak staves, top, bottom and iron hoops of a disassembled vinegar keg from the 1845 Northwest Passage Expedition led by Sir John Franklin. The stave with the bung hole is narrower than the rest. One of the hoops has 'J. BAGNALL & SONS' marked on the inside. Bagnall's were ironmongers from West Bromwich.

This item was recovered by the US expedition under Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka between 1878-1880. It is described as 'small vinegar cask from a native cache in Wall Bay' in the 1881 catalogue of items that he sent back to Britain in 1881 [TNA, ADM 1/6600].

Schwatka's expedition was returning from Cape Felix. On around 12 July 1879 they passed close to Cape Maria Louisa on the west coast of King William Island and an Inuit boy Awanak located an Inuit cache of Franklin expedition items. This included 'a small keg' [Gilder, page 148].

Heinrich Klutschak reported that an Inuk had told the expedition that he had cached these items under a rock for lack of transport but was unable to find them when he came back [Klutschak, page 94].

Painted on the base in white is 'STAVES AND HOOPS OF VINEGAR KEG 6' indicating that the keg was displayed at the Royal Naval Museum, Greenwich, in 'Case 10, No 6. Staves and hoops of a vinegar keg'. It was also in Display 15 at the Royal Naval Exhibition at Chelsea in 1891.

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