JAN MAYEN EXPEDITION, 1911
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JAN MAYEN EXPEDITION, 1911

JAN MAYEN EXPEDITION, 1911

Details
JAN MAYEN EXPEDITION, 1911
A collection of typescripts, letters, transcripts, photographs and other material relating to the expedition, assembled by Baron A. Klinckowström (expedition zoologist) and William Bellows (alpinist), and comprising:

Letter book of A. Klinckowström, 26 October 1909 - 17 June 1911, concerning the planning of the Jan Mayen expedition, and comprising autograph transcripts of 15 letters by Klinckowström, and letters by expedition leader J. Foster Stackhouse (10 autograph letters signed, 4 letters signed, one autograph note signed, and 2 autograph receipts signed), Walter Friedeberg (ornithologist on expedition, 4 letters), and letters of advice from J.V. Havsteen and Carl Höepfner (2) in Iceland, and from Aage Berlème in Copenhagen, with a printed prospectus, with five photographs of arctic subjects and a postcard from Klinckowström to Bellows (loosely inserted); altogether approximately 71 leaves, 4to, black roan. Provenance: presentation inscription of Klinckowström to William Bellows (alpinist on the expedition), 11 October 1923, with a further inscription by Bellows recording his inability to induce the Royal Geographical Society to accept the volume as a gift

Typescript copy of A. Klinckowström, 'With Britons & Teutons to Jan Mayen, 1911', in English, apparently a copy prepared by W. Bellows, and including his annotations in typescript and manuscript, 108 pages, 4to, with a body of illustrative material mostly pasted in, comprising: PHOTOGRAPHS, including a series of approximately 36 photographs of the expedition, showing views of the Matador (2), crew members (14), Jan Mayen (2), and various scenes in the Faroes and Iceland (8), as well as 'Twenty views of Jan Mayen given to me [i.e. William Bellows] by Dr Jean Charcot of the French National Antarctic Expedition taken by him 1902 and 1912', 9 photographs by J.M. Wordie, leader of the Cambridge University Expedition to Jan Mayen, August 1921, and six other arctic photographs, and reproductions of caricatures of 1911 crew members by S. Hepworth (12); DRAWINGS, including 3 of the coast of Jan Mayen by Bellows, and one satirical sketch, unsigned, of 'Bentham senior on night duty', fast asleep; autograph SIGNATURES of expedition members, on one leaf, 4to; and LETTERS, including A. Klinckowström (11 letters and a postcard to Bellows), J. Foster Stackhouse (letter signed and autograph receipt), Jean Charcot (6, referring to Jan Mayen, 1913), Adrian de Gerlache (6, one referring to the construction of the Polaris [later the Endurance]), William Bellows (to his mother on board Matador before setting off) and nine others; and printed ephemera and press-cuttings, altogether approximately 171 pages, 4to, black roan, lettered in gilt on upper cover and spine (a little worn and scuffed). Provenance: William Bellows (card pasted to front free end paper)

with a further unillustrated copy of the typescript, and a printed book, Stray papers by William Bellows, 1937 (privately printed), which includes a description of the Jan Mayen expedition.

As is clear from the letter book of Baron Klincowström, the original plans of expedition leader J. Foster Stackhouse had been for an exploration of the island of Mevenklint. By the beginning of 1911, however, attention had shifted to Jan Mayen Island (approximately half-way between Iceland and Spitzbergen), which had previously only been surveyed by the Austrian Polar Year Expedition of 1882-83, and boasted an unclimbed mountain, the Meerenberg. The letters chart the planning of the expedition, with routine questions of equipment and timing, as well as the gathering of expedition members, which were eventually to include Klinckowström's son Harald, and three German specialists.

Klinckowström's account of the expedition (here in his own idiosyncratic English translation) makes no attempt to disguise its hopelessly shambolic nature. The original choice of vessel, a wooden ship suited to Arctic waters, had to be discarded because the owner, 'a rather religious sort of a man, asked for guarantees, that the vessel would every Sunday be at anchor in some port, where the crew were able to attend church service'. The replacement vessel, the iron-hulled Matador, was essentially a pleasure-cruiser, and Klinckowström's retrospective relish is clear as he catalogues the expedition's disasters: first, they left Newcastle without a Bill of Health, and had to make an unscheduled stop in Kirkwall; some distance out from the Orkneys it was found that there was no chronometer on board for determining longitude, and they were 'obliged to sail on good luck, compass and "dead reckoning" just as the ancients did'; next it was realised that the Matador had no form of heating, and the crew (who had not been warned by the boat's owner of their destination) had no cold-weather clothing -- fortunately the Baron himself had thought to take the cabin next to the boilers; finally, after their departure from Iceland, came the crucial discovery that the Matador carried not the expected 40 but only 25 tons of coal, and that her rate of consumption was 50 per cent more than estimated.

By this stage, according to Klinckowström's account, relations between the British and Teutonic divisions of the expedition had all but broken down, with the two Swedes and three Germans determined to abandon the ill-fated trip, and the Britons insistent on pressing on and trusting to luck. Indeed, the Matador did return to port in Iceland, only for a change of mind to lead to a second departure for the Arctic Circle. Great delight is evinced on the passage when the two gentleman-amateur expedition 'meteorologists', Bentham senior and Bentham junior, are found on deck attempting to take the water temperature from a bucket with a bathing thermometer. On arriving at Jan Mayen, it was discovered that the Matador was not equipped with a suitable boat for landing on the rocky shores of the island, and, after two days of cruising around the coast, and with coal again running out, the attempt was abandoned.

The pleasures of Klinckowström's account are not at an end: on the return voyage the party's frustrated cinematographer, Swan, prevailed upon his companions to participate in a faked 'landing' at Jan Mayen (actually on a convenient beach in Iceland), enthusiastically stage-managed by Klinckowström ('I have always had a weakness for big stylish humbug'). The 'Teutonic' element with one accord elected to jump ship in the Faroe Islands for a few weeks of outdoor pursuits, and it was not until later that they heard of the finale: 'Arriving in Newcastle in the middle of the night they ran in their haste to come ashore full speed against the quay, damaging that useful municipal contrivance as well as the fore of the Matador'; and then discovered that they had arrived in the middle of a dockers' strike, and were relieved of much of their unused equipment.

The correspondence accompanying the lot indicates that, nothing daunted, Stackhouse immediately began plans for a return to Jan Mayen the following summer (letter of 12 September 1911): Klinckowstöm's response is a polite refusal (letter of 1 November 1911), with the diplomatic suggestion that no future expedition should mingle British and Continental elements, because of differences in 'method'.

The account published by William Bellows (the expedition's 'alpinist') is kinder, and to some extent glosses over the failings in organisation and understanding. It also pays tribute to Baron Klinckowström as 'the dominant figure of our ocean group', and the world's foremost authority on the dachsund dog.

J. Foster Stackhouse was the Honorary Secretary to the British Antarctic Expedition under Captain Scott in 1910. He died on the Lusitania whilst planning his own 'International Antarctic and Oceanographic Expedition'.
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