Silver fiddle-pattern table fork belonging to Alexander McDonald

A silver fiddle-pattern fork belonging to Alexander McDonald, Assistant Surgeon on HMS Terror, from the 1845 British Northwest Passage Expedition led by Sir John Franklin. The back of the handle is engraved with the monogram 'A Mc D'. The spoon has London hallmarks, the date code for 1831-1832, and the maker’s initials 'BD' for either Benjamin Davis or Benjamin Dexter.

The fork was bartered from a group of Inuit by Captain F. L. McClintock's sledge team on 3 March 1859 near Cape Victoria, Boothia Peninsula. Here the sledge team met about 45 Inuit who bartered relics that included 'six silver spoons and forks...' In his appendix McClintock is more specific, stating 'six silver spoons and forks, the property of Sir John Franklin, Lieutenants H. D. [le] Vesconte and Fairholme, A. M'Donald, Assistant-Surgeon, and Lieutenant E. Couch (supposed from the initial letter T and crest a lion's head).' [McClintock, Voyage of the Fox (1859), pages 232, 260, and 370]. At the later meeting on 7 May 1859 with Inuit at Cape Norton, an additional teaspoon owned by McDonald was purchased.

It is not certain that the silver table fork was displayed at the Royal Naval Museum, Greenwich. The item is 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. 9 (bottom left).

Object Details

ID: AAA2475
Collection: Polar Equipment and Relics
Type: Fork
Display location: Display - Polar Worlds Gallery
Creator: Davis, Benjamin; Dexter, Benjamin
Events: Arctic Exploration: Franklin's Last Expedition, 1845-1848; Arctic Exploration: Franklin Search Expedition, McClintock, 1857-1859
Vessels: Fox (1855); Terror (1813)
Date made: 1831-1832
People: Alexander McDonald, Alexander
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.
Measurements: Overall: 15 x 205 x 26 mm

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