An antler and copper fish hook

An antler and copper fish hook made of copper from the 1845 Northwest Passage Expedition led by Sir John Franklin. The copper fish hook is attached to a piece of antler - the side of the hook protrudes through the side of the bone and is secured by a rivet. There are two holes at the top.

The fish hook was recovered by the US expedition under Lieutenant Frederick Schwatka between 1878-1880. It is described as 'Item 52. Fish hooks made from the ship's copper - Adelaide Peninsula' in the 1881 catalogue of items that he sent back to Britain in 1881 [TNA, ADM 1/6600].

Schwatka's expedition found these in the possession of Inuit camped on Adelaide Peninsula in 1879. They are mentioned in Frederick Schwatka 'Nimrod in the North: or hunting and fishing adventures in the Arctic Regions' p. 137. 'our barbed hooks so excited their curiosity that they were fain to give us almost anything for them, but we were glad enough to exchange them for their rough ones of copper that had been crudely hammered from the sheeting stripped from the bottom of Sir John Franklin's ships'. The lack of barbs on the fish hooks meant that the fish had to be hauled out very quickly before they escaped.

The item was formerly displayed at the Royal United Service Institution. Number 401 in the 1924 catalogue 'Three fish hooks made from ships' copper obtained from Esquimaux, Adelaide Peninsular.' It was also in Display 14 in the Royal Naval Exhibition at Chelsea in 1891.

Object Details

ID: AAA2304
Collection: World Cultures; Polar Equipment and Relics
Type: Fish hook
Display location: Display - Polar Worlds Gallery
Creator: Unknown
Events: Arctic Exploration: Franklin's Last Expedition, 1845-1848; Arctic Exploration: Franklin Search Expedition, Schwatka, 1878-1880
Vessels: Erebus (1826)
Date made: After 1848
People: Royal United Service Institution
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Royal United Service Institution Collection
Measurements: Overall: 38 x 95 x 27 mm

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