SIR ERNEST HENRY SHACKLETON (1874-1922), EDITOR
1908-09 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 195mm). Chromolithographic title, 10 lithographic or etched plates by G. Marston (of a possible 11), penguin device repeated throughout in brown or orange. (Lacks the plate 'In the Stables', one plate detached, some text leaves partially detached or with short tears around punch holes, without the final printed leaf, 'A Giant Tick Was Investigating the Carcase', known to exist in only a few copies.) Bound by Bernard Day in original sheep-backed packing-case boards, inside lower cover stencilled 'BEANS' and back cover '...NNE SOUP', uncut (rebacked, preserving old spine with title and penguin device in blind).
THE FIRST BOOK PRINTED AND BOUND IN ANTARCTICA. LIMITED TO ABOUT 100 COPIES, AND ONE OF THE RAREST OF ALL POLAR WORKS. While Aurora Australis continued a tradition of Polar printing that went back to the mid-19th century, a number of ships in the Franklin search expeditions having small steam printing presses on board, its true inspiration was undoubtedly the South Polar Times in which Shackleton was involved as editor during the Scott expedition of 1901-1904. With this precedent in mind, 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, around 100 copies were printed and bound in the Antarctic winter of 1908. Frank Wild and Ernest Joyce had both taken a quick course in printing before their departure from England, and despite their inexperience were able to type-set and print two pages a day, the only discernible faults in their work being that the sequencing of the unnumbered pages varies between copies and a slight inconsistency of content. As Spence notes, the boards of the binding were made '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'. Conrad p.146 ("A few more than 60... copies are extant"); Rosove 304.A1b; Spence 1095.