British Antarctic Expedition, 1910-1913
Edward Leicester ATKINSON (1882-1929). A two-colour metal pendant set with garnets collected in the Antarctic, [circa 1916-18], 6.4cm. high, modelled in semi-relief as the Terra Nova in a heavy swell, surrounded by a sun-burst effect, two of the garnets set into the side of the ship, the others onto the surrounding wave tops, the reverse plain but for an engraved inscription 'Surgn. Commr. Edward Leicester Atkinson R.N., D.S.O Antarctica. "Terra Nova" June 1910 - Feb. 1913'.
Provenance: Edward Atkinson (gift to his first wife, then given to his second wife:); Mary Atkinson (née Hunter); by descent.
[With:] a machine-print portrait photograph postcard of Atkinson, [circa 1910], at the helm of the Terra Nova, 13.5 x 8.5cm.
'Atch' Atkinson (or Leicester as he was known to the family) apparently returned from the Antarctic with a number of garnets, almost certainly collected by him or other expedition members from a site near Mount Terra Nova on Ross Island. In order to display the stones, and commemorate the expedition, he commissioned four pendants, which according to family history were identical: three for his sisters (Faith, Hope and Charity) and one for his first wife. The marriage was not a success and the pendant was returned to him after the divorce. His second marriage, to his first wife's cousin Mary Hunter, took place in November 1928. Atkinson died the following year: 'His early death was undoubtedly the outcome of his experiences in the Royal Navy and the Antarctic' (A. Jones. Polar Portraits p.17).
Atkinson is now best known as the leader of the party which found the bodies of Scott, Wilson and Bowers in their tent on the Barrier in November 1912. He had originally been picked from amongst the hundreds of volunteers for the expedition. 'He was, in fact, the surgeon for the main party at Cape Evans since... Wilson was virtually a non-practising doctor. Since his strict medical duties were light, he went also as parasitologist, continuing the original work done in the Discovery by Dr R. Koettlitz... In 1912, when the Terra Nova took back most of the expedition, Atkinson became the officer in charge - almost by default and agreement.' (2)