SPITZBERGEN - MIDSHIPMAN NELSON An autograph letter to J. T. Batt esq. from an anonymous sender transmitting news of HMS Racehorse and Carcass and their progress on their quest for the Northwest Passage, seemingly passed on from the Prime Minister at the time, Lord North, having been communicated from, presumably, Lord Sandwich, the First Lord of the Admiralty; together with a tracing manuscript map, sent by Lord North, showing the outline of the principal islands of Spitzbergen, the tract of the Racehorse and Carcass, the extent of the pack ice and the area in which floes were encountered, map 485 x 350mm. [c.1773] (2)
Lot 22
ROYAL NAVY EXPLORATION EXPEDITION, 1773 An autograph letter to J. T. Batt esq. from an anonymous sender transmitting news of HMS Racehorse and Carcass; together with a tracing manuscript map, sent by Lord North, showing the outline of the principal islands of Spitzbergen, [c.1773] (2)
Sold for £1,000 (US$ 1,680) inc. premium
Lot Details
ROYAL NAVY EXPLORATION EXPEDITION, 1773
Autograph letter to J. T. Batt esq. from an anonymous sender, giving news of HMS Racehorse and Carcass and their progress on the quest for a passage via the North Pole, seemingly passed on from the Prime Minister at the time, Lord North, having presumably been communicated by Lord Sandwich, the First Lord of the Admiralty; together with a traced manuscript map, sent by Lord North, showing the outline of the principal islands of Spitzbergen, the track of the Racehorse and Carcass, the extent of the pack ice and the area in which floes were encountered, map 485 x 350mm. '10 Octo.', [1773?] (2)

Footnotes

  • SPITZBERGEN AND MIDSHIPMAN NELSON. HMS Racehorse, commanded by Constantine John Phipps, and her escort ship, Carcass (upon which the 14 year old Horatio Nelson was midshipman under the Captaincy of Skeffington Lutwidge), attempted unsuccessfully to a find a passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The letter's author refers to the "impervious bank of ever fixt ice" which thwarted the expedition, remarking of the map that "it will explain to you a country that never was mapped before it is all I pretend to." Despite the expedition's failed ambitions it was made famous from accounts of a young Nelson being attacked by a polar bear which he attempted to club with the butt-end of his musket.

    John Thomas Batt, a barrister on the Western Circuit, did, according to the Gentleman's Magazine of March 1831, "obtain the confidence of the future Premier William Pitt, and when that statesman came to power, he soon gratified his own feelings of friendship by placing Mr. Batt into an honourable and lucrative office, we believe that of Auditor for the Irish Accounts."
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