A silver fiddle-patern table fork belonging to Sir John Franklin

A silver fiddle-pattern table fork belonging to Sir John Franklin from the 1845 British Northwest Passage Expedition led by Sir John Franklin. The back of the handle bears the Franklin crest (conger eel's head between two branches). Only three of the four prongs remain on the fork. The fork has London hallmarks, the date code for 1844-45, and the maker's mark 'GA' for George Adams. 'W C' is scratched roughly on the back, suggesting it was allocated to William Closson, Able Seaman HMS 'Erebus'. He came from Shetland and was 25 in 1845 when the expedition left.

The silver table fork was bartered from a group of Inuit by Captain F. L. McClintock's sledge team on two possible occasions. The first was 3 March 1859 near Cape Victoria, Boothia Peninsula, when the sledge party met about 45 Inuit and purchased six silver spoons and forks. The second was on 7 May 1859 near Cape Norton, east side of King William Island where McClintock wrote 'I purchased from them six pieces of silver plate, bearing the crests or initials of Franklin, Crozier, Fairholme and McDonald,...' In his appendix McClintock records for March '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 Couch (supposed from the initial letter T and crest a lion's head)'. The list for May consists of 'two table forks, one bearing the Franklin crest,...' although this may be AAA2480. Franklin does note that one of the tablespoons was scratched 'W.G'., but no spoon exists in the collection, so it could be a mistake for the fork with 'W.C'. [McClintock, The Voyage of the Fox (1859), pages 232, 260, 370].

It is not certain that the silver table fork was displayed at the Royal Naval Museum, Greenwich. 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.

Object Details

ID: AAA2477
Collection: Polar Equipment and Relics
Type: Fork
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Adams, George
Events: Arctic Exploration: Franklin's Last Expedition, 1845-1848; Arctic Exploration: Franklin Search Expedition, McClintock, 1857-1859
Vessels: Fox (1855)
Date made: 1844-1845
People: Franklin, John; Closson, William
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.
Measurements: 17 x 208 x 22 mm

Your Request

If an item is shown as “offsite”, please allow eight days for your order to be processed. For further information, please contact Archive staff:

Tel: (during Library opening hours)

Click “Continue” below to continue processing your order with the Library team.