HARRY DICKASON (1885-1943)
A collection of autograph manuscript journals, autograph notes and copies, photographs and sketches relating to the Northern Party of the British Antarctic Expedition, Terra Nova, Cape Adare and Evans Coves, 1 June 1910-12 February 1913, and comprising:
Autograph manuscript journal signed ('H.Dickason, Terra Nova R.Y.S., British Antarctic Expedition, June 1910-'), a continuous narrative from Terra Nova's departure from New Zealand until just before the Northern Party's departure from Cape Adare, 26 November 1910-31 December 1911, illustrated with FIVE PHOTOGRAPHS BY RAYMOND PRIESTLEY, showing five members of the Northern Party at Cape Adare (excluding Priestley), 'Percy, our pet penguin', the hut at Cape Adare 'nearing completion. On the right can be seen Borchgrevink's hut in which we are at present living', 'Scene in Robertson Bay after ice blown out', 'Our loaded sledge. It shows the twelve foot sledge, already packed, on the top of the iron runner sledge ready for the trip to the West', and ONE PHOTOGRAPH BY GEORGE ABBOTT, showing Campbell, Dickason and Priestley at 'A halt for lunch. The Primus being used to make a drink of cocoa. Scene on the Western trip', various sizes, 48 x 96mm.-80 x 116mm., also MENU CARD PRINTED BY VICTOR CAMPBELL FOR THE MID WINTER'S DAY DINNER AT CAPE ADARE, 22 JUNE 1911, AND SIGNED BY ALL MEMBERS OF THE NORTHERN PARTY, 125 x 88mm., all mounted and tipped in (one photograph detached), and a sketch by Dickason of 'A group of bergs off Cape Adare, August 20th 1911', 78 x 262mm., tipped in, the journal 78 pages, folio blanks (occasional light foxing), original boards (rubbed);
Autograph manuscript journal, a fair copy, describing the Northern Party's sledging expeditions at Evans Coves, 8 January-27 January 1912, autograph title 'H.Dickason. British Antarctic Expedition. 1910-', 8½ pages, 4to (minor stains to outer margin of title), original cloth by Evans Hallewell & Co., Ludgate Hill, London (extremities rubbed, light staining, blank leaves extracted);
Autograph manuscript journals describing the outward journal on Terra Nova, 1 June-5 August 1910, the discovery of Hanson's grave and the wait for the arrival of Terra Nova at Cape Adare, 27 [December] and 1-3 January 1912, and the homeward voyage of the expedition, 19 January-12 February 1913, with copies of extracts from Frank Browning's sledging diary describing the spring sledging at Cape Adare, 8-12 September and 4-13 October 1911, altogether 25½ pages, 4to on loose sheets of lined paper (occasional soiling and tears); together with five sketches of ice-bergs, a sketch-map, a poem 'Here's to the blizzard of -17', 16 lines, two other pages of manuscript notes, and a later photograph of Dickason on his bunk, together 8 pages, various sizes; [with:] an autograph letter signed ('Rings') by Frank Browning to 'Dick and Tiny' [Dickason and Abbott], 9 October 1911, left at a depot during the spring sledging at Cape Adare, on brown paper, integral address across panel ('Harry Dickason, Cave Point, Victoria Land'), 2 pages, 4to (creased, two small tears).
Provenance: Harry Dickason, and thence by descent; Christie's, 21 Sept. 2000, lot 106.
AN APPARENTLY UNPUBLISHED JOURNAL OF SCOTT'S NORTHERN PARTY, describing the first half of the outward journey to just beyond South Trinidad, the voyage from Lyttelton to Cape Evans, the disembarkation of the main expedition, the separate establishment of the Northern Party at Cape Adare, the winter at the hut, and the spring and summer sledging around Cape Adare, as well as the explorations at Evans Coves, though without any description of the Ice Cave episode at Inexpressible Island or the subsequent season at Cape Evans. Dickason's account is in straightforward seaman's style, keeping a record of work done, weather conditions, observations and distances, the rigours of expedition work varied with the simple pleasures of a game of bezique, a Sunday walk, singing and gramophone concerts or the joys of chasing penguins. Dickason's main journal is apparently a fair copy kept at Cape Adare, with transcriptions from sledging journals during the spring explorations; Dickason refers in one place to 'my other book', perhaps a sketch book. The Evans Coves journal is apparently a neat copy made after the Northern Party's return to Cape Evans.
The Northern Party of Scott's 1910-1913 expedition consisted of Lieutenant Victor Campbell, Surgeon George Murray Levick, Raymond Priestley (geologist), Petty Officers George Abbott and Frank Browning, and Seaman Harry Dickason. Originally intended to be an Eastern Party, exploring King Edward VII Land, it was diverted by Amundsen's presence in the Bay of Whales, and the difficulty of finding a landing place, to Borchgrevink's old base at Cape Adare. The site was not ideal, offering limited access for exploration of the interior; but it did provide the opportunity for an important set of meteorological observations for comparisons with those of Borchgrevink twelve years before; and it was home to a large colony of Adélie penguins, which, in addition to being a valuable source of food and entertainment for the wintering party, were to be the subject of an important study by Levick. After some limited sledging around Cape Adare, the party was picked up by Terra Nova in early January 1912 and deposited for what was intended to be six weeks' exploratory sledging at Evans Coves; when the ship was prevented by pack ice from collecting them, they were forced into the probably most arduous of enforced winterings in the Antarctic, spending seven months in a cave dug into a drift at 'Inexpressible Island', before sledging down the coast to Cape Evans.
Harry Dickason exemplified the resourcefulness and good cheer of the seamen of Scott's expedition, turning his skills to any number of fields, from apprentice zoology, weather-observations and physiography to the construction of kayaks, butchery of seals and penguins, sledging and hut-building. Dickason was particularly skilful at swift and efficient use of the Primus stove, and was entrusted with this vital task throughout the winter in the ice cave. His diary and notes give some impression of the almost holiday-camp atmosphere which Scott's last expedition at times achieved, with poetical squibs, healthy strolls, a cunning adjustment of the clock when he has overslept ('Of course I readjusted the clock at the first opportunity, or at least 'Rings' [Browning] did the trick whilst I screened him, very narrow shave'], and a Christmas gramophone concert outdoors: 'we had plenty of penguins gathered round listening to the music, it was quite amusing to watch them edging up and away from the gramophone trying to make out what it was.' Dickason went on to serve with the Royal Navy as a Petty Officer during World War I. (3)