SHACKLETON (ERNEST H.)  Aurora Australis, British Antarctic Expedition, 1908
Lot 72
SHACKLETON (ERNEST HENRY) Aurora Australis, British Antarctic Expedition, 1908
£60,000 - 80,000
US$ 100,000 - 140,000
Lot Details
SHACKLETON (ERNEST HENRY, editor)
Aurora Australis, coloured lithographed title, 10 lithographed or etched plates by George Marston (2 tipped-in as published), overall 109 leaves (16 printed in red), untrimmed, green binding ties, original boards made from venesta packing crate by Bernard Day, with stencilled letters "BR/ANT/EXP" inside upper cover, "EXP/19" inside lower cover, skilfully rebacked in brown calf with the original spine laid down, preserved in purpose-made fleece-lined solander box [Conrad, p.146; Renard 1436 (this copy); Rosove 304.A1.c, and addenda acknowledging this copy; Spence 1095; Taurus 60; OCLC 142137], 4to (260 x 195mm.), East Antarctica, Published at the Winter Quarters of the British Antarctic Expedition, 1907 During the Winter Months of April, May, June, July, 1908... Printed at the Sign of 'The Penguins'; by Joyce and Wild. Latitude 77o12' South Longitude 166o12', [1908-1909]

Footnotes

  • THE FIRST EDITION, FIRST STATE OF THE FIRST BOOK PUBLISHED AND PRINTED ON THE ANTARCTIC CONTINENT. ONE OF APPROXIMATELY 80 COPIES.

    To keep his men occupied during the dark winter months in the Cape Royds hut, Shackleton asked for written stories, poems, or humorous short essays from his men. The best were to be published. Shackleton brought with him a small printing press, paper and type (donated by J. Causton & Sons Ltd). The printing and publishing was co-ordinated by Ernest Joyce and Frank Wild, both of whom had undertaken short printing courses prior to their departure. George Marston provided illustrations, and Bernard Day made the bindings from the crates used for provisions. The ink was heated by candles, and much of the printing was done when the other men were sleeping to minimize vibration. Shackleton wrote the introduction and preface to the text, and contributions were made by 10 other members of the crew.

    A total of 80 bound copies of Aurora Australis were brought back from Antarctica in 1909 (as mentioned in a letter from Shackleton to Pierpont Morgan, now in the Morgan Library, New York City, reviewed by Robert Stephenson in May, 2007). Two variants are known. The rarest, as here, includes 10 plates and a leaf of text in a chapter by Frank Wild entitled "An Ancient Manuscript" which was subsequently excised. Shackleton was concerned that a page of Wild's text, in which he describes five wealthy men meanly refusing to contribute financially to the Expedition fund, may jeopardise future fund-raising efforts, and therefore asked that the "offensive" passage be deleted. This was then replaced by an additional plate for the "second state". For a full discussion see M.L. Greene, "Aurora Australis (1908)... A New Description of the First State of the First Book Publiished on the Antarctic Continent", in Book Talk: Essays on Books, Oak Knoll Press, 2006, pp.69-79).

    A current census has identified location of up to 70 of these copies. Of those identified only a very few are in the first state, these seemingly having escaped having the offending leaf of text removed - perhaps author Frank Wild objected to having his contribution edited by "The Boss".

    Provenance: Martin L. Greene (Seattle) from Julien Renard (Gaston Renard).
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