Various Photographers
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Various Photographers

Various Photographers

Various Photographers
The James Caird: a folio of twelve photographs including a photograph of Crean, Shackleton and Worsley at Stromness immediately after the crossing of South Georgia (20 May 1916), the Yelcho arriving in Punta Arenas (3 September 1916), seven photographs of the James Caird in the Birkenhead shipyard of Messrs. Grayson's (December 1919) and two photographs of the James Caird with John Quiller Rowett at the helm (c. 1922)

12 x 10in. (30.4 x 25.4cm.) and smaller

Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922), and thence by descent.

The seven little known photographs of the James Caird in a Birkenhead shipyard are the first photographs of the boat after the now legendary boat journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia, and show her, uniquely, prior to being cleaned up for exhibition in London, and with relics of the boat journey strewn about. Along with clothes and sleeping bags, one can make out parts of their two Primus cookers, what is probably Hurley's baling pump made from the flinders bar from the ship's compass, the cases of nutfood and one of the casks for drinking water. Details show the stern with the rudder (lost in a swell when they made their first landing on South Georgia, but which reappeared, miraculously, a few days later: 'McCarthy, walking idly along the beach, suddenly found the boat's rudder floating in on the tide. Shackleton saw this as an exhilarating confirmation of the lucky star under which he believed he had been born. The rudder, "with all the broad Antarctic to sail in", as he put it, "had come bobbing back into our cove."' R. Huntford, Shackleton, London, 1985, p.577), replaced when she was repaired at Cory's Barge Works in 1968, the starboard side with the surviving part of McNeish's raised gunwhale, and an interior view with what are probably remains of ballast bags.

Commissioned and designed by the Endurance's captain Frank Worsley, the boat was a double ended and carvel-built 'whale-boat', 22 feet and six inches in length, built in the yard of Messrs. W. and J. Leslie on the Isle of Dogs in July 1914. She was an addition to the two life-boats and motor-boat carried by Endurance and was named James Caird after Shackleton's major sponsor, the Dundee jute millionaire and philanthropist, Sir James Caird, on the floe-ice of Patience Camp on 26 November 1915, a month after the Endurance went down. The largest of the three life-boats saved from the wreck of the Endurance (the other two, the Dudley Docker and the Stancombe-Wills were similarly named after expedition sponsors), she was specially adapted for the rigours ahead by the ship's carpenter: 'Before they took to the boats McNeish raised the gunwhale ten inches by adding chafing battens from wood salvaged from Endurance to her bow, 'to keep the young ice from cutting through as she is built of white pine which won't last long in ice'. The caulking was done with cotton lamp-wick and with oil paints sacrificed by Marston, finished off with seal's blood. Arrived on Elephant Island [on 15 April after launching on 9 April, 1916], Macklin wrote in his diary, they began to cut Caird down, she being so heavy we could not handle her or haul her clear of surf... McNeish mended a hole made by a sharp spur of ice in the passage through the ice-floes on the starboard bow above the waterline 'with a small patch of metal', and strengthened her for the Boat Journey [to South Georgia] by bolting the mast of the Stancombe-Wills inside the Caird along the keel... Since there was not enough wood to make a deck, McNeish added a canvas top to the boat to limit the amount of baling the men would have to do, supported by sledge-runners and pieces of Venesta board... from the food cases... This became the slippery canvas top... over which amid the apalling waters on the Boat Journey they crawled and hung to the mast, the waves sweeping over them, in order to chip off the ice... Ballast of boulders, shingle and sand was put in canvas bags or blankets.' (J. Piggott, 'The James Caird' in the exhibition catalogue Shackleton, The Antarctic and Endurance, Dulwich, 2000, pp.53-4)

The James Caird set sail from Elephant Island for South Georgia on 24 April 1916. With a crew of six (Shackleton, Worsley, Crean, McNeish, Vincent and McCarthy). Worsley navigated her by the sun and the stars across the 800 miles of infamous southern ocean to South Georgia in seventeen days, surviving hurricane force gales and mountainous seas.
On arrival at South Georgia on 10 May decking was taken off to lighten her to bring her ashore and at Peggotty Camp she was upturned and used as a shelter by McNeish, Vincent and McCarthy while Shackleton, Worsley and Crean crossed South Georgia to raise the alarm.

'After the Boat Journey the Caird was towed off by the Norwegian whalers and hoisted up to the deck of the Samson, which had come round the north of the island to rescue Vincent, McNeish and McCarthy. At King Haakon Bay [Peggotty Camp] some fragments of the topsides of the boat had been burnt. Evidently it was the Norwegians who understood the boat as the most important relic and insisted on the Caird being brought back; on arrival at Leith Harbour in Stromness Bay, the whalers mustered on the beach and, according to Worsley, they 'would not let us put a hand on her, and every man in the place claimed the honour of helping to haul her up to the wharf. Captain Thom of the Southern Sky, the ship that in May 1916 first tried to save the party marooned on Elephant Island, brought the Caird to Liverpool on the S.S. Woodville, probably as deck cargo, along with a cargo of whale oil for Lever Brothers at Port Sunlight in the hold, arriving on 5 December 1919... The Daily Telegraph of 26 December 1919 ('Famous Boat in London') reported that the Caird would be exhibited to the audiences at the Albert Hall when Shackleton lectured on the expedition to raise money for the Middlesex Hospital:

'For some time past this boat, now in a dilapidated condition, has reposed peacefully in the Birkenhead shipyard of Messrs. Grayson's, and at the beginning of the week it was carefully packed up and sent to London... The boat was brought back to London as the only relic of the Endurance, and... has lain unobtrusively in the shipyard. Many times it has come near to being broken up... but it is gratifying to know that every care will now be taken to preserve this relic of a remarkable journey.'' (J. Piggott, op. cit., pp. 55-6)

After exhibitions in London, the boat was gifted to John Quiller Rowett by Shackleton in 1921 and is now preserved and on permanent exhibition at Dulwich College.

The photograph of Shackleton, Worsley and Crean is one of just two surviving photographs (for the other see lot 92) showing the 'trio of scarecrows' on their arrival after the march across the uncharted interior of South Georgia.
12 (12)
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