Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1916
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Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1916

Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1916

Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914-1916
A "Tabard" Cigarette tin containing remains of an expedition biscuit, inscribed 'Biscuit from Expedition 1914/1916' on the "Tabard" label attached to the lid of the tin

5 1/8 x 3 x 1½in. (13.1 x 7.6 x 3.8cm.)

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

Shackleton and his companions Worsley and Crean were down to their last biscuit as they came off the mountains of South Georgia on the morning of 20 May 1916: 'So we started away again downwards. We abandoned the Primus lamp, now empty, at the breakfast camp and carried with us one ration and a biscuit each. ...Shivering with cold, yet with hearts lightened and happy, we set off towards the whaling station...' (Sir E. H. Shackleton, South, London, 1919, p.203)

Biscuits were a key part of the sledging diet, and made to special recipes for Scott and Shackleton's expeditions. Shackleton favoured the concentrated milk protein fortified 'Plasmon' biscuit on his Nimrod expedition (see Christie's, 18 April, 2000, lot 152) and limited supplies of biscuits were salvaged from Endurance before she sank. Two cases of biscuits were saved for the boat journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia and the present remains are presumably Shackleton's own souvenir of the James Caird's stores.

After the loss of the Endurance farinaceous food supplies dwindled and the men's diet became necessarily more and more dependant on penguin and seal meat as the months passed: 'We are, of course, very short of the farinaceous element in our diet, and consequently have a mild craving for more of it. Bread is out of the question, and as we are husbanding the remaining cases of our biscuits for our prospective boat journey, we are eking out the supply of flour be making bannocks...made from flour, fat, water, salt, and a little baking powder, the dough being rolled out into flat rounds and baked in about ten minutes on a hot sheet of iron over the fire. ...A few boxes of army biscuits soaked with sea-water were distributed at one meal. They were in such a state that they would not have been looked at a second time under ordinary circumstances, but to us on a floating lump of ice, over three hundred miles from land, and that quite hypothetical, and with the unplumbed sea beneath us, they were luxuries indeed.' (Sir E.H. Shackleton, South, London, 1919, p. )

Tabard was Shackleton's cigarette company formed with his tobacconist in Piccadilly, Forbes Lugard Smith, in 1904: 'Shackleton saw Tabard -- probably named by himself, influenced by his brother Frank, after the embroidered tunic of a herald -- not as another path to instant fortune, but as a hopeful sideline. It was the one business with which he persevered, although it was no more that a glorified shop in Lynedoch Place. After the Nimrod expedition, it followed him from Edinburgh to London where it was housed in Smith's depot in Foubert's Place, behind Regent Street.' (R. Huntford, Shackleton, London, 1985, p.351)
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