Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (1874-1922)
A Silver Cigarette Box maker's mark 'J.B.', retailer's stamp Dobson of Piccadilly, London, 1904
Rectangular of convex form, with hinged lid, engraved with the "Discovery" expedition logo above 'E.H.SHACKLETON IN REMEMBRANCE 1901-4. R.F.Scott [facsimile signature]', cedarwood lining to base, with silver gilt interior to the lid, marked on base and lid - 8 x 4 x 3in. (20.3 x 10.8 x 7.6cm.).
Provenance: Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton (presented to him by Captain Scott); by descent.
A particularly poignant gift from Scott to Shackleton, is remembrance of the Discovery expedition of 1901-4. Scott chose Shackleton and Wilson to accompany him on the southern journey which set out, in November 1902, on the first ever attempt to reach the South Pole. They were out for three months, running along the western edge of the Ross stet, reaching their Furthest South on 30 December 1902 at 82 17'S, and barely struggling back to the Discovery on 3 February 1903. All were suffering from starvation, scurvy and snowblindness, and Shackleton, showing symptoms of asthma, had collapsed on the return journey and had, at times, to be carried on the sledge. On their return, Scott ordered that Shackleton be returned home early on the relief ship Morning and Shackleton grudgingly departed.
Much has been made of the subsequent friction between these two vastly different personalities. Scott's account of the sledging journey certainly irritated Shackleton, and Shackleton was still sensitive to the issue when he returned from the Nimrod expedition in 1909: 'In June, a few days after returning to London, Shackleton was entertained to dinner at the Savage Club. Scott was in the chair. "If I had a hand in rocking his Antarctic cradle," he said of Shackleton in proposing his health, "I am very proud of it." Immediately after dinner, Shackleton made some excuse, departed, and did not return. Scott was surprised... Even in the determinedly convivial surroundings of the Savage Club, Shackleton did not wish to be talked of as a baby, especially by the man against whom he had fought so hard to erase the stigma of weakness.' (R. Huntford, Shackleton, London, 1996, p.305)
The present gift clearly acknowledges the unique comradeship of these two Antarctic pioneers and offers a counterpoint to the well documented differences that persisted throughout their subsequent careers.