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Lot 228
SHACKLETON (Sir ERNEST, editor) Aurora Australis

Sold for £ 43,200 (US$ 54,132) inc. premium
SHACKLETON (Sir ERNEST, editor) Aurora Australis, lithographed title with illustration to represent the Aurora Australis printed in blue, 1O lithographed or etched plates by George Marston, PRESENTATION INSCRIPTION FROM ERNEST JOYCE AND FRANK WILD on a blank following the title and with a four-page letter from Joyce to the recipient loosely inserted, some leaves partially detached from the punch holes, bound in boards from the expedition's venesta packing cases with a leather spine blind-stamped with the title and the expedition's 'trademark' device, upper joint detached, a note on a scrap of paper slipped inside the front cords reads "Please do not loose this book TE" [Rosove 304.A1], 4to, East Antarctica, Published at the Winter Quarters of the British Antarctic Expedition 1907, during the Winter Months...1908


  • THE FIRST BOOK PRINTED IN ANTARCTICA, AND THE BLACK TULIP OF ANY ANTARCTIC COLLECTION. Around 65 copies are known, to which the present can be added. Varying estimates suggest that between 25 and 35 copies may remain unaccounted for.

    Shackleton had earlier been the editor of the South Polar Times, published in England to commemorate Scott's first expedition of 1901-1904. The success of this led to his shipping a press, type and paper with his Nimrod expedition of 1907-1909. During the Antarctic winter of 1908 Frank Wild and Ernest Joyce, who had received some training in England, acted as printers.

    Whether the want of binding materials was an oversight, or not, the problem was solved by Bernard Day, the electrician and mechanic, using boards from the crates in which the expedition's supplies were shipped, the stencilling often revealing the contents as soup and the like. In the present copy the venesta boards are an exact pair in terms of the stencilling that appears on the inner sides of the boards. This reads: [AN]TARCTIC | [EXPEDITIO]N 1907. Day used spare harness leather for the spine, and the contents were tied into the binding by threading cords through holes punched in the inner margins of the leaves, an expedient that means almost all copies of the Aurora have some leaves either working, or actually, loose. From our experience, the present copy is well above average in this regard.

    Textually this copy conforms with that printed in the facsimile edition [Rosove 304.C4] (Shrewsbury, 1988). This varies from the main collation for the 1908 Aurora set out in Rosove 304.A1, within the contribution by Frank Wild titled 'An Ancient Manuscript'. In some copies on illustration titled 'Many Shekels Were Needed for the Ship To Go Forth' appears on the verso of Rosove's leaf 63. In our copy, and the facsimile referred to, 63 verso has further text, but not a repetition of that on 63 recto as suggested by Rosove. Like the majority of copies ours does not have the final leaf with the title for a plate 'A Giant Tick Was Investigating the Carcase'. The plate itself is not known to exist, so the failure to remove its title in some copies may be viewed as an oversight.

    The presentation inscription on a blank after the title (in Ernest Joyce's hand) reads: "To our old Pal Tom Eames | Wishing him the best of | luck. From the Printers | Ernest E. Joyce" and further inscribed below by Frank Wild. The circumstances of the connection between Eames, Joyce and Wild are not clear, but were almost certainly maritime, and are underlined by the letter included with the lot:

    JOYCE (ERNEST E.) Long autograph letter signed, headed 'King Edward VII Land' and 'Dear Tom' describing the Nimrod's reception in Australia, the departure from New Zealand under tow by the Koonya, the heavy gales and toll this took on the ponies including the loss of one, encountering large bergs the day after being cast off by the Koonya, the eventual sighting of the Great Ice Barrier and steaming along it to the intended site for their Winter Quarters "but found it had vanished as the ice had all broken away good job we had not built our hut on it wasn't it. This Great Ice Barrier is worth seeing as it is over 500 miles long...we proceeded to King Edward VII Land and got stopped by very heavy Pack so we proposed to winter in our old Discovery Winter Quarters much to my delight as I know the place like a book', talking of the intended assault on the South Pole to be made after winter "I am sure we will break all records", his work as assistant postmaster and that he is applying several of the special stamps to this letter which he thinks will prove valuable, and recounting that they had to open 4000 letters and 30 cablegrams which had to all be stamped and sent back with the Nimrod, (as was this letter), a postscript says that any post to him should be sent c/o Postmaster, Christchurch, 4 pages, on paper headed British Antarctic Expedition 1907, the first leaf with three one penny New Zealand stamps, overprinted 'King Edward VII Land', and with the Expedition frank (possibly 3 February the day on which Nimrod made fast at the ice foot off Hut Point Peninsula), two corners with the stamps have at some time been torn off and then carefully reinstated with tape on verso, the stamps cut away from the second sheet without loss of text, old folds, Antarctica, January or February, 1908.

    Also included with the lot is the 8-page pamphlet: Souvenir of Lecture: "Nearest the South Pole," by Sir Ernest Shackleton, original buff wrappers with oval portrait of Shackleton mounted on upper cover, 8vo, [1909].
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