Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-1904
A bronze commemorative medal, struck in 1910, 51mm. diameter, the obverse showing the Scotia on the Weddell Sea with an ice shelf behind, surmounted by a large clouded globe showing Great Britain in the North, and in the Southern hemisphere the South Orkney and South Shetland Islands, the Weddell Sea and coasts of Antarctica, enclosed by the legend 'SCOTTISH NATIONAL ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION' with terminal figure of St. Andrew, the reverse depicting Omond House, Laurie Island, South Orkneys, with the legend 'FOR VALUABLE SERVICES,' the dates '1902' and '1904', and two flags, the lion rampant flag of Scotland and expedition flag with monogram and Scottish saltire, garland of thistles at foot.
William Speirs Bruce (1867-1921, the medal is sold with his visiting card), given by him to Douglas Kennedy, thence by descent to the present owner, Kennedy's great-grandson.
William Bruce announced his plans for a Scottish National Antarctic expedition in 1900, the funds were raised in Scotland, and the expedition sailed in the Scotia, exactly 99 years ago, in November 1902. The Scotia spent two summers in oceanographical and biological research in the Weddell Sea and South Atlantic. Coats land was discovered in 1904, proving to be part ot the Antarctic continent. The intervening winter was spent in the South Orkneys, and the expedition base at Omond House, Laurie Island, was to become the oldest continuously manned structure in the Antarctic (from April 1903). Gough Island was biologically explored, and the expedition returned to Scotland with large biological collections from waters down to 2,900 fathoms. A 7-volume report was published although not completed. Bruce founded the Scottish Oceanographical Laboratory at Surgeons Hall, Edinburgh, in 1907 and this is the address given on his visiting card. The laboratory was closed in 1919 for lack of funds, and his meticulous expedition records are now located with the R.S.G.S., University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. Douglas Kennedy was a coal-mining contractor and financier, and family history relates that it was possibly through his money lending activities that he became acquainted with Bruce, who was habitually short of sponsorship funds. However, they were also neighbours. Both men lived in Joppa, now in Edinburgh, Bruce from 1901, Kennedy from 1904. A FINE AND IMPORTANT MEDAL. (2)