A litho plate from William Kennedy’s Short Narrative of the Second Voyage of the Prince Albert in Search of Sir John Franklin – sold for £5800 at Dominic Winter.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Issued in two blind-stamped and gilt decorated volumes in 1855, the work includes Bellot’s own journal and an account of William Kennedy’s 1851 Franklin search expedition.

During their searches Bellot accompanied Kennedy on a 1100-mile sledge journey but in 1852, while attempting to make contact with another of the searchers sent out from England, Sir Edward Belcher, he disappeared into an ice crevasse in the Wellington Channel.

Given that the copy of this rare work in Franklin Brook-Hitching’s library had made £4200 at Sotheby’s in 2014, the estimate was a curiously low one.

Franklin search

Sold for £5800, however – just £200 short of the sum paid for the FB-H copy – was an 1813 presentation first of Kennedy’s own Short Narrative of the Second Voyage of the Prince Albert in Search of Sir John Franklin.

Illustrated with a folding map and three litho plates (one reproduced above) this copy was not in perfect condition, but it was inscribed “A.J.Wyllie, with Lady Franklin’s kind regards…”. A solicitor and the town clerk of Stromness in the Orkney Islands, Wyllie had acted there as Kennedy’s agent and is briefly mentioned in the book.

The above-mentioned Admiralty expedition led by Belcher was not only looking for signs of Franklin, but for the ships commanded by Collinson and McClure on an earlier search expedition that had not been heard from in a long time.

An 1857 first in period calf of Alexander Armstrong’s 1857 account of the …Discovery of the North-West Passage made during Robert McLure’s lengthy search for the lost Franklin expedition was sold at £1500. Armstrong was HMS Investigator’s naval surgeon. The commander of that 1850-55 expedition was Richard Collinson, who had at an early date become separated from McClure, but, as it later emerged, had come very close to discovering Franklin’s fate.

Collinson’s Journal of HMS Enterprise…, however, did not appear until 1889, when it was edited for publication by his brother. The Dominic Winter copy made £1450.

Sold at £1900 was yet another Arctic rarity, but one this time unrelated to the loss of the Franklin expedition. This was Notes on a Voyage to the Arctic Sea in 1863, a 50pp booklet that in 1864 reprinted articles originally published in a Northumberland local newspaper, the Alnwick Mercury.

Tate had studied medicine at Edinburgh University before signing on as a ship’s doctor on a whaler, the Dublin, for a voyage from Peterhead to Spitzbergen.

This copy of his tale was one that he inscribed for George J Allman, emeritus professor of natural history at his old university.

’Bootan’ bonus

The travel section of the South Cerney sale also included a collection of books on Bhutan and Tibet.

Papers Relating to Bootan, a two-volume collection of government papers dealing with relations between England and Bhutan at the time of Sir Ashley Eden’s failed mission and the Anglo-Bhutan war that followed in the years 1864-65, was sold at £1450.

An 1865, Calcutta first (in modern binding) of Eden’s own account of those Political Missions to Bootan…, the war that followed and the resultant ceding of territory, made £1650.

An 1800 first of Captain Samuel Turner’s …Embassy to the Court of the Teshoo Lama, in Tibet…, illustrated with map and 13 engraved plates, is the first eye-witness account in English of Tibet and Bhutan. Bound in contemporary sprinkled calf, it sold at £1200.

As with a number of the other lots noted above, it is to the FB-H library sale at Sotheby’s that one must once again look for record prices – in this instance £3500.

The highest bid in the October 4 sale came for a log book kept in the years 1847-52 by a ship’s master by the name of George Thompson – two of whose long voyages in that period saw him transporting convicts to Australia.

Sold for £11,000, that log is described in more detail in an online report at