British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1909
Sir Ernest Henry SHACKLETON (1874-1922). - The Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris for the year 1908, for the Meridian of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. published by Order of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. Edinburgh: Neill & Co., Ltd. for His Majesty's Stationery Office, sold by Wyman & Sons, Ltd. and others, [no date but 1907?]. 8°, 9¼ x 5¾in. (23.3 x 14.7cm.). Small format slip tipped onto title. 3 folding lithographic maps, numerous illustrations, pencilled markings to margins of pp.469 and 471, wax/grease stains to title and p.46. (7 leaves lacking, a few others loosely inserted, some small tears and marginal staining.) Original blue paper wrappers, letterpress title-label on backstrip, indistinct pencilled calculations to lower cover (worn, label torn with loss, stitching weak).
Provenance: Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922), and by descent to the present owner.
A reference work taken on the Nimrod expedition of 1907-9 that provided Shackleton with information which he and Marshall probably used to calculate the expedition's Farthest South position of 88° 22'. In an attempt to save weight, Shackleton evidently decided not to take the complete volume on the sledge journey south but removed a number of leaves from the present work (pp.99-100, 109-112, 121-124 and 133-136) and some from the volume for 1909. These leaves were necessary for accurate positional calculations. The Royal Geographical Society hold examples of four of the seven leaves removed by Shackleton from this volume (pp.121-124 and 133-136), as well as a number of leaves from the volume for 1909. The RGS leaves were presented to them in 1922 by E.A.Reeves and were exhibited at the 'British Polar Exhibition' held in London in 1930. The Official Catalogue entry for item 390 reads: 'Pages of the Nautical Alamanac for 1908 and 1909 carried by Shackleton on his southern sledge journey and used by him and Dr. Marshall in calculating their farthest south, 88° 23' [sic]'. An attempt to match up the loose pages in the present work with the corresponding RGS leaves was inconclusive, but it may well be that the leaves missing from the present work that are not held by the RGS (pp.99-100 and 109-112), all of which relate to September and October 1908, were removed for use by the party which left for the Magnetic Pole on the 22 September 1908.
In addition to the missing leaves there are various other indications of the use to which the work was put. The pencilled markings highlight star positions for three days in March and three in April 1908: at this time the expedition, which had landed at Cape Royds in early February, were finishing preparations to face their first Antarctic winter. The wax or grease still stuck to the title and one of the text pages are presumably stains from blubber lamps.
We are grateful to Hugh Thomas of the Royal Geographical Society, London, for his kind assistance with the cataloguing of this lot.