Drawing by Dr Edward Wilson for The South Polar Times – £17,000 at Bonhams.

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Two 19th century journals kept by Christopher Palmer Rigby, one of them covering his service as British Consul in Zanzibar, brought two of this sale’s highest bids – as reported in Pick of the Week, ATG No 2481.

The books in the sale on February 10 were led at £36,000 by a 1632, first complete edition of Samuel Champlain’s account of his many voyages to …la Nouvelle France, or Canada, and the most successful of the paintings offered was Richard Robert Drabble’s The Mosque of Aurangzeb, Benares… The latter, featured on the Bid Barometer of ATG No 2480, made £20,000.

‘Summit of Mt Jannu at Sunset’, one of a small group of photographs produced at the very tail end of the 19th century by Vittorio Sella (1859-1943) – though printed at a later date – sold at £7000, but the most expensive lots in this category were found among the polar entries.


Signed photo-portrait of Scott, Shackleton and other officers on Discovery – £25,000 at Bonhams.

An example of Herbert Ponting’s dramatic, dark and famous image of 1911 showing ‘The Freezing of the Sea’ realised £15,000, but bid to £25,000 was a photograph of Captain Scott, Ernest Shackleton and 10 other officers who served on Scott’s 1901-04 Antarctic expedition gathered together on the deck of the Discovery. All of their signatures adorn the mount.

Bid to £17,000 was a signed watercolour and pencil drawing by Dr Edward Adrian Wilson, the expedition’s zoologist and junior surgeon, that was initially intended for reproduction in The South Polar Times, the famous illustrated journal produced on board the Discovery.

Edited by Shackleton and Louis Bernacchi, an Australian physicist and astronomer, while the ship was icebound during the winters of 1902 and 1903, that work was largely illustrated by Wilson.

Featuring a polar coat of arms, his watercolour is a variant of the image eventually used as a frontispiece to the second volume of the South Polar Times when the original typescript version was later published in London.

Two typed letters relating to Shackleton’s application to join Scott’s Imperial Transantarctic expedition of 1914-17 sold at £16,000.

Back at the forefront


A 1915, first US edition of Douglas Mawson’s The Home of the Blizzard – £2200 at Dominic Winter.

Other polar material featured as the 43-lot, opening section of a Dominic Winter (20% buyer’s premium) sale of March 10.

It was a collection formed by ‘Kenn’ Back, a descendant of Arctic explorer Captain George Back and a man whose own lengthy, distinguished and highly honoured career of research in the Antarctic regions began in 1963.

Containing 45 original photographs, seven manuscript maps and much more besides, a manuscript log dating from those early days, Back’s ‘Record of the Climate and Inhabitants of Adelaide Island, Antarctica, 1963-66’, was sold at £2000.


A 1915, first US edition of Douglas Mawson’s The Home of the Blizzard – £2200 at Dominic Winter.

Back’s two-volume, first US edition of Douglas Mawson’s The Home of the Blizzard…, an account of the 1911-14 Australian Antarctic Expedition, made £2200 via rather than the suggested £200-300.

Also bid to a much higher than expected sum, £1800, was a cloth-bound offprint of The Psychology of Exploration, a 10pp article that had appeared in the journal Psyche in July 1921. Bound in contemporary cloth and containing typescript and autograph notes and press clippings, this was author Raymond E Priestley’s own copy.