Relics of the Franklin Expedition

Discovering Artifacts from the Doomed Arctic Voyage of 1845


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About the Book

Sir John Franklin’s Arctic expedition departed England in 1845 with two Royal Navy bomb vessels, 129 men and three years’ worth of provisions. None were seen again until nearly a decade later, when their bleached bones, broken instruments, books, papers and personal effects began to be recovered on Canada’s King William Island. These relics have since had a life of their own—photographed, analyzed, cataloged and displayed in glass cases in London.
This book gives a definitive history of their preservation and exhibition from the Victorian era to the present, richly illustrated with period engravings and photographs, many never before published. Appendices provide the first comprehensive accounting of all expedition relics recovered prior to the 2014 discovery of Franklin’s ship HMS Erebus.

About the Author(s)

Garth Walpole was born in 1961 in Hobart, Tasmania. He earned a degree in history and archaeology at the University of Bangor in Wales, where his fascination with the lost Arctic expedition of Sir John Franklin began. He died April 7, 2015, not long after completing this book.
Russell Potter lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Bibliographic Details

Garth Walpole
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: 61 photos, 11 maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6718-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2712-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Abbreviations Used viii
Editor’s Preface 1
Original Introduction 3
1. The Material Biography of Relics: A Physical and Spiritual Relationship 5
2. The Continued Search for Relics, 1851–1854 50
3. Examining the Relics 145
4. The Material and Social Value of the Relics 160
5. The Relics: Their Past, Present and Future 163
Conclusion 191
A: Locations of Relics 194
B: Relics at the National Maritime Museum 195
C: Relics with Ownership Ascribed 207
D: Relics Recorded and Left by McClintock, 1859 211
Chapter Notes 214
Bibliography 219
Index 227

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Walpole went to great effort to ensure that all historic accounts and the contexts in which specific relics were recovered were as accurate as possible, a feat that is especially impressive…extremely well researched, and all historical accounts are thoroughly cited…valuable…meticulous detail”—The Northern Mariner
  • “This book is a delight, a detailed treat that requires many encounters with its pages, and an archaeologist’s dream. This is an intelligent, well-organized analysis of nearly every artifact found in the Canadian Arctic…recommend”—Sea History.