Relic from Franklin's Northwest Passage expedition

Made:
1800-1845 in England

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Razor, iron, retractable blade, relic from Franklin expedition, found in North West Territories of Canada, English, 1800-1845

This retractable blade razor is a relic of a doomed Arctic expedition. It was found in the North West Territories of Canada. In 1845, Sir John Franklin (1786-1847) had embarked on his third arctic expedition to discover the North West passage. This fabled sea route lay between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and discovering a navigable passage would give Britain supremacy over trade moving between these oceans. A whaling crew spotted Franklin’s two ships, the HMS Terror and Erebus, off Canada on 26 July 1845. They were then never seen by Europeans again.

Over the next 150 years, researchers and historians have pieced together the expedition’s movements. They have achieved this through the discovery of a number of corpses and relics such as this. The expedition ended with the loss of all 129 members. It appears to have met incredible hardship including disease, poisoning and ultimately cannibalism. Investigations among the local Inuit people suggested some of the expedition team, desperate to escape, were still alive as late as 1850. This iron razor was bought in 1919 with six other artefacts reputedly from the Franklin expedition.

Details

Category:
Wellcome (general)
Collection:
Sir Henry Wellcome's Museum Collection
Object Number:
A651468
type:
razor
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment