Sir Ernest Henry SHACKLETON (editor)
Aurora Australis. East Antarctica: published at the winter quarters of the British Antarctic Expedition, printed at the sign of 'The Penguins' by Joyce and Wild, 1908. 4° (260 x 190mm). Lithographic title printed in black and blue, 11 lithographic or etched plates by George Marston, 'trademark' on colophon and some section titles printed in brown or orange. Expertly rebacked to style using the original packing-case (venesta) boards, verso of upper cover with stencilled identification 'EAL' and pencilled note '6 Tins Oatmeal', verso of lower cover with stencil 'OATM', spine tooled in blind with title 'Aurora Australis' and the two penguins symbol, uncut as issued. Provenance: Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton and George Marston (ink signatures on blank leaf following colophon).
LIMITED TO 100 COPIES. AN IMPORTAND ASSOCIATION COPY SIGNED BY THE EDITOR AND ILLUSTRATOR. This work continues a tradition of Polar printing established in the mid-nineteenth century and also reflects Shackleton's direct experience on the Scott expedition of 1901-1904, particularly his involvement in editing The South Polar Times. It had long been recognised how important it was to provide Polar expeditions with sufficient tasks to occupy them during the dark winter months. With this in mind, a number of the ships taking part in the Franklin search expeditions had small steam printing presses aboard and Shackleton planned to follow these earlier examples on his own expedition to the Antarctic. He shipped a printing press, paper and the necessary type and plate-making equipment (all donated by J. Causton & Sons Ltd.), and, despite the cold and the cramped conditions of the hut at Cape Royds, up to 100 copies were printed and bound in the Antarctic winter of 1908. The printers, Frank Wild and Ernest Joyce, had both taken a hurried course in printing before their departure from England, and despite their inexperience were able to type-set and print two pages a day. 'The winter routine was now established... Among the lighter occupations was the preparation of a book, Aurora Australis, set up and printed in the hut, with lithograph and process illustrations, also produced on the premises, printed on a hand press and bound in venesta boards from the packing cases. A hundred copies were printed, but none for sale, and the work is already a rarity for bibliophiles, both on account of the beauty of the typography and because no other book has ever been produced on the poleward side of latitude 70°.' (H.R. Mill, The Life of Sir Ernest Shackleton, London, 1923, pp.129-130)
The present copy has been expertly rebacked using the original covers and following the methods used by Bernard Day in the Antarctic. Spence writes of the original binding of the work: 'The leaves were punctured along their inner margin and secured with a silken cord to the inside of two venesta boards, which form the book covers. These boards were obtained from empty tea-chests etc., with some being stencilled... Day (the mechanic) was entrusted with the binding of the volumes, using old harness leather for the backstrip or spine... It is reported that about 100 copies were produced at Cape Royds of which none were sold.'
Conrad p.146 ("A few more than 60... copies are extant"); Spence 1095; Taurus 60.