One of the Rarest Arctic Plate Books

A Series of Fourteen Sketches Made During the Voyage Up Wellington Channel in Search of Sir John Franklin, K.C.H., and the Missing Crews of H.M. Discovery-Ships Erebus and Terror; Together with a Short Account of Each Drawing.

London: Day and Son, 1855.

Price: $14,000.00


About the item

First edition. Fourteen tinted lithographed plates on thirteen sheets (some with additional hand coloring, as issued). [2],6pp. Folio. One of the Rarest Arctic Plate Books. Publisher's cloth-backed paper wrappers. Soiling and some wear to the wrappers, repaired edge tears to one text leaf. Cloth box. Sabin 47083 (dated 1865); Abbey Travel 646; TPL 3454.

Item #353909

A most handsome series of lithographic plates, depicting scenes in the high Arctic made during one of the primary expeditions in search of Sir John Franklin and the missing crews of H.M.Ss. Erebus and Terror. Walter May served as lieutenant aboard the Assistance, under the command of Edward Belcher, on an expedition which explored the Canadian Arctic from 1852 to 1854. Some thirty-nine different expeditions searched for Franklin's lost party in the 1850s, and the feats and findings of the parties constitute one of the most glorious chapters in the history of exploration. This is one of the chief illustrated accounts of the Franklin searches, based on drawings made by May during the expedition.

Included are plates of the squadron at Disco Island; the loss of one of the ships in pack ice; the vessels of the voyage frozen in the ice while wintering over; three scenes in the stormy Wellington Channel; many scenes of the sledge parties sent out beyond the ships, with crews pulling heavy skids of supplies under the most adverse conditions; and finally a plate depicting a collection of relics from the Franklin expedition brought back to England by Dr. Rae. A full list of the fourteen plates, printed on thirteen sheets, follows:
1) "The Arctic Squadron in Leevely Harbour."
2) "Loss of the McLellan."
3) "H M S Assistance and Pioneer in Winter Quarters."
4) "H M S Assistance, in tow of Pioneer."
5) "H M S Assistance and Pioneer fast to the floe."
6) "Perilous Position of H M S Assistance and Pioneer."
7) "H M S Assistance and Pioneer breaking out of Winter Quarters."
8) & 9) "Division of sledges." (Two plates on one sheet).
10) "Division of sledges passing Cape Lady Franklin."
11) "Sledges in a fresh fair wind."
12) "Encamping for the night."
13) "Sledge party returning through water."
14) "Franklin Relics brought by Dr. Rae."