The First Book Published and Printed in Antarctica at Bonhams NY

Lot 55 Shackleton, Ernest_Aurora Australis copy.jpgNew York? On September 25, Bonhams sale of Exploration and Travel, Featuring Americana will offer a large range of over 300 lots, which is highlighted by significant works from George Washington, Mark Twain, and Ernest Shackleton — some of the most important figures in US history, literature, and exploration. Highlighting the sale is Aurora Australis, 1908, the first edition of the first book published and printed in Antarctica by Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) (estimate: $70,000-100,000).

The book was printed during the Nimrod expedition of 1908-1909 to keep his men occupied during the dark winter months in the Cape Royds hut. Shackleton brought with him a small printing press, paper and type (donated by J. Causton & Sons Ltd) and asked for written stories, poems, or humorous short essays from his men. The printing and publishing was co-ordinated by Ernest Joyce and Frank Wild, both of whom had undertaken short printing courses prior to their departure. George Marston provided illustrations, and Bernard Day made the bindings from the crates used for provisions. The ink was heated by candles, and much of the printing was done when the other men were sleeping to minimize vibration. Shackleton wrote the introduction and preface to the text, and contributions were made by 10 other members of the crew. A total of 80 bound copies of Aurora Australis were brought back from Antarctica in 1909.

Additional highlights include the fascinating and famous proceedings of George Washington’s court martial of Charles Lee for Cowardice at the Battle of Monmouth, Proceedings of a General Court Martial…for the Trial of Major General Lee. July 4th, 1778, Philadelphia, one of only 100 copies of original edition for congress (estimate: $25,000-35,0000); an important letter by Mark Twain on the art of writing, October 21, 1881, one of the most profound articulations of the writer's art ever offered at auction (estimate: $30,000-50,000); and the first map in an atlas entirely devoted to America, 1513, by Claudius Ptolemaeus, c.100-c.170 (estimate: $250,000-350,000). 

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