BRITISH ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION, 1907-1909
The visitor's book used aboard the S.Y. Nimrod [7 August 1907-June 1909]. Oblong 4° (179 x 225mm.). 66 leaves of variously coloured paper, 55 leaves bearing one or more signatures and inscriptions, the first two leaves signed or inscribed by British Antarctic Expedition members and Nimrod crew and stamped with the expedition postal cancellation stamp, the first leaf with a mounted cancelled KING EDWARD VII LAND STAMP, the remaining leaves signed or inscribed by visitors to the ship. Original dark green roan, blocked 'Album' on upper cover, g.e. (spine and extremities rubbed, spine torn at head and foot, stiching loose). Provenance: Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922) and thence by descent to the previous owners; Christie's, 17 Sept. 1998, lot 188.
This important record of the Nimrod's visitors starts on the day she set sail from England for the southern hemisphere on 7 August 1907. The first two leaves bears the signatures of most, if not all, of the expedition crew members: Shackleton, Joyce, Wild, Mawson, Martson, England, Edgeworth David, etc. and includes a King Edward VII island stamp. One hundred pounds worth of these overprinted 1d. New Zealand stamps were issued to the expedition under the jurisdiction of the New Zealand government. Shackleton was sworn in as a Postmaster by authority of Sir Joseph Ward, Prime Minister of New Zealand, and a 'post-office' was opened in the territorial waters of King Edward VII island with a subsequent branch office in McMurdo Sound. The general entries (starting on the third leaf) apparently include visitors from all the Nimrod's ports of call (Cape Town, Sydney, Lyttelton, Christchurch), and demonstrate the enormous level of interest and good-will that the expedition and Shackleton's genius for publicity had generated. From the 30,000 people who gathered on the wharf at Lyttelton to say goodbye on 1 January 1908, to the crowds that greeted the returning heroes in 1909, all are represented here: harbour officials, civic dignitaries, naval men, the trainers of the doomed Manchurian ponies, friends and aquaintances.