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The Kidd-Palmer Charts

The Kidd-Palmer charts

Above: An approximate recreation of one of the Kidd-Palmer Charts

The Kidd-Palmer charts were discovered by retired lawyer and collector of pirate relics, Hubert Palmer, in a number of items of furniture that were said to have belonged to Captain William Kidd.

In 1929, Palmer bought a heavy 17th century oak bureau bearing the inscription 'Captain William Kidd, Adventure Galley 1669,' it is said that within the bureau Palmer found a secret compartment which contained a hand drawn map of an unnamed island, it bore the initials W. K., the words 'China Sea' and was dated 1669.

Palmer went on to track down two sea chests and a wooden box that were also supposed to have belonged to Kidd, Palmer claimed to have found further maps in all three of them, all depicting the same unknown island, but with varying levels of detail.

After Hubert Palmer's death, ownership of all four of the maps passed to his housekeeper, Elizabeth Dick, who took them to the British Museum to be examined by map expert R. A. Skelton. Skelton expressed the opinion that all of the maps were genuine 17th century charts, a fact that he confirmed to author Rupert Furneaux in 1965. [Money Pit - The Mystery of Oak Island by Rupert Furneaux, Fontana/Collins, 1976, page 43]

Elizabeth Dick sold all four maps in 1950 to an Englishman who later moved to Canada. Author Rupert Furneaux contacted the owner of the maps who told him 'The charts are fading badly.' [Money Pit - The Mystery of Oak Island by Rupert Furneaux, Fontana/Collins, 1976, page 43]

The current whereabouts of the four maps is unknown.

The Kidd-Palmer Charts

Above: An approximate recreation of another of the Kidd-Palmer Charts

Misdirection

Many believe that the island depicted in the maps is not in the 'China Sea' as the inscription claims, but is in fact Oak Island off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. The 'China Sea' inscription being a deliberate attempt to throw treasure hunters off the scent.

William Kidd and Gardiners Island

Some have noted that the island in the Kidd-Palmer charts does look a little like Gardiners Island (Suffolk County, New York State), where Kidd unquestionably did conceal goods and items of value in the Cherry Tree Field area of island in June 1699, shortly before his arrest for piracy. This treasure was recovered and returned to England by Governor Bellomont where it was used as evidence at Kidd's trial.

The recovered treasure consisted of gold and silver bars, gold dust (over 1000 troy ounces of gold and more than 2000 troy ounces of silver in total), rubies and other precious stones, silk, 57 bags of sugar and other more utilitarian objects. The treasure was sold off in November 1704 for a total of �6437, the money used to found Greenwich hospital.

The location Kidd concealed the treasure on Gardiners Island is private property and not accessible without the landowners permission.

The Captain Kidd Treasure map from Captain Kidd and his Skeleton Island; The Discovery of a Strange Secret Hidden For 266 Years by Harold T Wilkins

Treasure Map from Captain Kidd and his Skeleton Island; The Discovery of a Strange Secret Hidden For 266 Years by Harold T Wilkins

Appeal for Information

I am currently searching for more information about the Kidd-Palmer charts, where are they now? Does the British Museum still have copies of the photographs they took of maps? If you have any information please email me!

References

Further Reading

Captain Kidd and his Skeleton Island; The Discovery of a Strange Secret Hidden For 266 Years by Harold T Wilkins, Cassell and Co. Ltd, 1935, Hb. 377pp including index. Interestingly dedicated 'To Hubert Palmer The Friend of Captain Kidd and the Old Buccaneers'.

This work was revised and reprinted a number of times (not necessarily an exhaustive list, unconfirmed):

(Unconfirmed) Liveright Pub Co. New York. May 1937. 411pp (First US edition?)

(Unconfirmed) New facts about mysterious Captain Kidd and his Skeleton Island: The strange story of a secret cunningly hidden for 272 years and discovered in 1942. Haldeman-Julius publications (Big Blue Book), 1947.

Money Pit - The Mystery of Oak Island by Rupert Furneaux, Fontana/Collins, 1976 (but first published by Tom Stacey Ltd. in 1972) Pb. 158pp including index. ISBN 0006341896

On Buried and Sunken Treasure by Rupert Furneaux, Penguin Books, 1973, Pb. 48pp. no index.

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