SIR JOHN FRANKLIN (1786-1847)
H.M.S.Resolute. - a 'play-bill' on green paper for the 'Royal Arctic Casino', 1851, 450 x 170mm., The Manager has the honor to announce that this highly fashionable, and usually crowded resort will be again shortly thrown open. The Splendid Suite of Apartments are re-decorated in the old Hyperborean style... At the suggestion of an exalted personage of this realm, the season will close with a Grand Fancy Dress Ball!! On Wednesday the 11th; of February 1851... J,L.Printer. (small tears to margins, small old stain to lower margin.
VERY RARE EPHEMERAL ITEM, PRINTED IN THE ARTIC. The Resolute under the command of Captain Horatio Austin and the Assistance under the command of Erasmus Ommanney were despatched to search for Franklin in February 1850. 'On 2 Aug. 1850 Ommanney discovered the first traces of the fate of Sir John Franklin; these on investigation proved that his ships had wintered at Beechey Island' (DNB). During the arctic winter boredom was one of the great enemies on board the two ships: the Royal Arctic Casino on board the Resolute and the Royal Arctic Theatre on the Assistance both put on entertainments to keep up morale, using a small steam-press to produce annoucements of forthcoming events. The humour of the 'play-bills' is a trifle heavy-handed for modern tastes, but does occasionally reflect the thoughts of those involved in the search: the description of the arctic as a 'highly fashionable, and... crowded resort' refers to the fact that during this period 12 ships were involved in the search. The two ships returned to England in October 1851.