Rare platter from British Arctic Expedition discovered on Anglesey

The British Arctic Expedition of 1875-’76 platter.

A rare platter from a service made for the ward room on HMS Discovery during the British Arctic Expedition of 1875-‘76 has been discovered during an antiques valuation event on Anglesey.

Valued at up to £500, the platter came to light at a valuation event held by Shrewsbury-based fine art auction house Halls at The Bulkeley Hotel, Beaumaris last week.

The platter was made for HMS Discovery to mark the British Arctic Expedition led by Admiral Sir George Strong Nares (1831-1915), which was sent by the British Admiralty to attempt to reach the North Pole via Smith Sound. Two ships, HMS Discovery and HMS Alert, sailed from Portsmouth on May 29, 1875.

Although the expedition failed to reach the North Pole, the coasts of Greenland and Ellesmere Island were extensively explored and large amounts of scientific data were collected.

Nares became the first explorer to take his ships all the way north through the channel between Greenland and Ellesmere Island, which is now named Nares Strait in his honour, to the Lincoln Sea. The journey exploded a popular theory of the time that this route would lead to the supposed Open Polar Sea, an ice-free region surrounding the pole, but Nares found only a wasteland of ice.

Overall the expedition was beset with problems, as the crew suffered badly from scurvy and had inappropriate clothing and equipment. Realising that his men could not survive another winter in the ice, Nares hastily retreated southward with both his ships in the summer of 1876.

Halls Asian Art specialist Alexander Clement, who discovered the platter, said he did not believe there was a family connection between the owner and the expedition. The platter, which bears the expedition stamp, will be sold at  a country house auction in Shrewsbury on September 28.

The valuation event also kept Maryanne Lineker-Mobberley, head of Halls’ silver and jewellery department, busy. She took in for sale two silver goblets valued at up to £300, a bar brooch valued at up to £200 and a cased set of commemorative teaspoons at up to £150. These items will be included in Halls’ pictures, silver and jewellery auction on October 26.

James Forster, head of Halls’ pictures department, took in a painting and a tapestry panel valued at £250 each.

Miss Lineker-Mobberley said Halls hoped to hold further antiques valuation events on Anglesey and in North Wales in the coming months and was happy to hold events to support deserving charities. She may be contacted at Halls on Tel: 01743 450700 or e-mail fineart@hallsgb.com.


“These events are a great opportunity for members of the public to discover the history as well as the true market value of items that may have been handed down through generations of the same family,” she said. “We never know what we are going to see, which adds to the excitement.


“It’s also important to get an up-to-date valuation of antiques, pictures, silver and jewellery as these items may now be either under-insured or over-insured on household contents policies based on current market values.”