Help us purchase a map from Rae’s past

29 March 2024

Dear Members,

We are getting in touch with an urgent request for donations to help us secure for Orkney a rare North Polar Admiralty map annotated by Dr John Rae that is coming up for auction on April 4th.

Auction Map

On the map, Rae’s marginal note states: ‘Here the hydrographer of the Admiralty took 10 or 15 miles from my discoveries so as to make Collinson’s appear the farthest. I was at this place a year (in 1851) before Collinson. [signed] J Rae’. Rae’s discoveries are marked in black ink; his ‘track on coast / previously explored’ is marked in red.

More information and pictures are available here: RAE, John (1813-1893, Explorer and Surgeon) Historical North Polar Map – North West Passage. in – Cheffins Fine Art

The top estimate is £800 and we want to put in a commission bid of £900. With fees this will come to a total of around £1200. We are working with Orkney Islands Council which is applying to grantmakers for some support, but we need to raise £600 towards the cost.

The map would be stored in Orkney’s excellent Archive and the John Rae Society would be able to borrow it and eventually hold it when we have The Hall of Clestrain restored.

In the meantime we could have digital copies.

We would be so grateful if you could offer your support. We believe this map belongs to Orkney, and tells a key part of the John Rae story, so we want to do all we can to retain it and eventually display it.

If you can help with a donation please go to this page on the John Rae Society webpage Donations – John Rae Society and in the ‘add comments’ box mark it ‘Donation for Admiralty map’. Or send a cheque to: The John Rae Society, Fursbreck Pottery, Harray, Orkney KW17 2JR and write on the back ‘Admiralty Map’.

We will keep you updated with progress and let’s hope we can secure the map for Orkney.

If you have questions please get in touch with Fiona Gould, membership secretary.