British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1909
Sir Ernest Henry SHACKLETON (1874-1922, editor). Aurora Australis. East Antarctica: published at the winter quarters of the British Antarctic Expedition, printed at the sign of 'The Penguins' by Joyce & Wild, 1908. 4° (26 x 19.5cm.). Lithographed title, 11 lithographed or etched plates by George Marston, 'trademark' on colophon and some section titles printed in brown or orange. (First 26 leaves with small tears at inner margins around holes punched for the 'sewing' of the leaves.) Original sheep-backed packing-case boards bound by Bernard Day, verso of lower cover with portion of stencilled identification 'Br[itish] Ant[arctic] Expe[dition]', verso of upper cover with 'Exp[edition] 19[?07...]', spine backed in blind with title and two penguin symbol, uncut as issued (original spine present but damaged, joints split).
Provenance: Ernest Perris (editor of the Daily Chronicle, inscribed on front blank by Shackleton: 'To Ernest Perris/from Ernest Shackleton/To one Editor of one million/five hundred thousand copies/per week,/from the Editor of ninety/copies per year./With warmest wishes/for his birthday/15 Feb. .1914.').
LIMITED TO 100 COPIES, a variant issue of one of the rarest of all polar works with the title printed in one colour rather than two. This work continues a tradition of Polar printing established in the mid-nineteenth century and also reflects Shackleton's direct experience on the Scott expedition of 1901-1904, and particularly his involvement in editing the South Polar Times. It had long been recognised how important it was to provide polar expeditions with sufficient tasks to occupy them during the dark winter months. With this in mind, a number of the ships taking part in the Franklin search expeditions had small steam printing presses aboard and Shackleton planned to follow these earlier examples on his own expedition to the Antarctic. He shipped a printing press, paper and the necessary type and plate-making equipment (all donated by J. Causton & Sons Ltd.), and despite the cold and the cramped conditions of the hut at Cape Royds, around 100 copies were printed and bound in the Antarctic winter of 1908. The printers, Frank Wild and Ernest Joyce, had both taken a quick course in printing before their departure from England, and despite their inexperience were able to type-set and print two pages a day.
Spence writes of the binding of the work: 'The leaves were punctured along their inner margin and secured with a silken cord to the inside of two venesta boards, which form the book covers. These boards were obtained from empty tea-chest etc., with some being stencilled... Day (the mechanic) was entrusted with the binding of the volumes, using old harness leather for the backstrip or spine... It is reported that about 100 copies were produced at Cape Royds of which none were sold'.
The fine inscription refers to the gift of this work to one of the more influential of Sir Ernest's backers. 'One of those with whom Shackleton had dealt since returning from Nimrod, was Ernest Perris, [editor] of the Daily Chronicle.' (R. Huntford, Shackleton, London, 1985 p.357). By the time the Endurance sailed in August 1914 the Daily Chronicle had bought the news rights and Perris had become both a friend (he was one of Shackleton's regular correspondants on the way south) and a financial backer (as a share-holder in the Imperial Trans Antarctic Film Syndicate Ltd., formed to to exploit Frank Hurley's work) as well as an important conduit to a number of major benefactors, including the London-based German businessman William Dederich and the philanthropist Janet Stancomb-Wills. Conrad p.146 ("A few more than 60... copies are extant"); Spence 1095.