21 September 2005
BRITISH ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION, 1907-1909
A menu of a dinner hosted by Dr. J. Scott Keltie, 26 October 1907, marking Shackleton's departure, with FIFTEEN SIGNATURES IN PENCIL ON THE REVERSE INCLUDING SCOTT, SKELTON, WILSON, BERNACCHI AND BARNE (from the Discovery wardroom), NANSEN, KELTIE and others. 7½ x 4 3/8in. (19.1 x 11.2cm.) Provenance: Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922), and thence by descent to the previous owner.
Scott Keltie, then President of the Royal Geographical Society, held a farewell dinner for Shackleton with his old messmates from Discovery four days before Shackleton finally departed, travelling overland to Marseilles and then on through the Suez Canal to Australia before joining S.Y. Nimrod in New Zealand in December. Shackleton's grandly named 'British Antarctic Expedition' was a private venture. Keltie and the R.G.S., aware of Scott's secret intention to mount another expedition, were unable to support Shackleton. Shackleton, having declared his own expedition in ignorance of Scott's intentions, was then put under immense pressure to alter his plans for a winter base at Discovery's old hut on McMurdo Sound, to which Scott reserved all rights. Scott had the support of Keltie and Wilson in this argument over 'territory', and the latter's 'quiet, ruthless, mental bullying' (Huntford) of Shackleton in protracted correspondence [SPRI] over the issue in 1907 announced the beginning of the end of a famous friendship.
In the end, Shackleton submitted rather to the imperatives of conditions along the Barrier in 1908, and went on to achieve his remarkable Farthest South. The group of menus from 1909-1910 trace his famous progress through Europe on his return home. (21)
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