The Gold Cap Band

AAA2082 at National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.  Photograph by Logan Zachary.

This is the relic that began to unravel the Franklin mystery.  On the right-hand side, we see a Royal Navy officer's gold cap band.  These were the decorative stripes that ringed their caps, as seen in their daguerreotype portraits.  As we move to the left, that history frays and changes into another; the gold braid becomes caribou skin, fashioned into a strap by the Inuit.

Every clue discovered by the searchers up til this point – stanchions, graves, pointing hands, a record near Disko Bay – had been dead-ends.  Franklin's men could still be anywhere in the Canadian Arctic.  This Gold Cap Band would be different.  In the spring of 1854, a searcher named John Rae saw this band being worn around the head of an Inuk named Innookpoozheejook.  Rae was about to become the first searcher to hear the story of the white men who had “starved to death west of a large river a long distance off.”  Franklin hadn't gone north or west from Beechey Island; he had come south, to King William's Land.  The Gold Cap Band opened a lead in the mystery that would end – five years later – at the Peglar skeleton, the Boat Place, and the Victory Point Record.

This relic is held by Greenwich's National Maritime Museum.  I requested to see it to investigate my idea that Innookpoozheejook was using the gold braid as snow-goggles, protecting his eyes from snow blindness caused by the sun's rays.  I was able to see noticeable gaps in the braid that one could see through, but only very few, and likely not enough to be functional.  Therefore it’s more likely Innookpoozheejook was wearing the gold cap band solely as fashion, upon his head as he may have seen Franklin's men wearing them.

– LZ, November 19, 2020



Appendix.


Illustrated London News sketch, November 4th 1854.  [Coloring mine. –LZ]



1855, May 1.  A Series of Fourteen Sketches by William May.  [Image public domain, courtesy of the British Library (link).]


Link to Greenwich's record for AAA2082:

Link to Greenwich's record for the other, later gold cap band from the Franklin Expedition, found by Hobson/McClintock at the Boat Place in 1859: