UK Exhibition Of Rare Antarctic Books for Shackleton's 145th Birthday

d85ac479-596f-4459-aa6d-3ba960b0a23e.pngTo celebrate the 145th anniversary of Ernest Shackleton's birth, Jonkers Rare Books are pleased to stage a selling exhibition featuring some of the rarest books about his life and expeditions, as well as items referring to other famous expeditions from the history of Polar exploration. Shackleton was recently voted by the British public as the greatest explorer of the 20th Century in the BBC Icons series.

Jonkers are exhibiting a remarkable collection of books, manuscripts and artwork at their showroom, 27 Hart Street, Henley on Thames, on his birthday, Friday, February 15, 2019, and publishing an accompanying catalogue with full descriptions of the expeditions and the rare items offered. The exhibition will move to the New York Antiquarian Book Fair, March 7-10. All listed items are for sale.

Some books are remarkable for what they have to say about the polar regions, others were actually produced by Shackleton's men in the Antarctic.

Shackleton highlights from the exhibition include:

20 - Aurora Australis The First Book Printed And Bound In Antarctica. A remarkable feat of publishing, book design and determination in the conditions most ill-fitting on the planet for book production.

Three of the expedition's crew were trained in book production by the printers Joseph Causton and Sons in advance of the expedition, who also donated the expedition a print press. But little could prepare them for the problems they would face. A candle had to be kept under the ink to prevent it from freezing, and only a page or two could be produced per day throughout the winter. The finished product, a book of incredible beauty and a testament to the perseverance of the Antarctic explorers who produced it, is the holy grail of Antarctic books. This copy is one of only a few signed by Shackleton, and it is priced at £150,000.

21 - Shackleton's Antarctic Menu. How Shackleton's Men Celebrated Midwinter. The other item printed on Shackleton's printing press in the Antarctic is this very rare menu, which was set around the table for the expedition's Midwinter Feast of 1908. The feast was, according to Shackleton himself, "a release, and an occasion for a wild spree." This tongue in cheek menu captures the high-spirits of the occasion. It proposes a starter of Turtle Soup, followed by Penguin Patties and Seal Cutlets. The pièce de résistance was Roast Reindeer and Black Currant Jelly with a garnish of Potatoes and Green Peas. Dessert was a selection of Plum Pudding, Ealing Cake and Mince Pies. Champagne and whisky are prescribed throughout, followed by Coffee, Cigars and Cigarettes. A 'drunk' typesetter then proposed yet "MORE WHISHKY!!!!!?" before "Sledges at 12-30". There was likely little more than a dozen copies of this menu originally printed, and only a handful of those are known to survive today. This copy is the one brought back from the Antarctic by expedition's cook, William Roberts.

No. 22 - An Original Employment Contract For Shackleton's Nimrod Expedition. This collection also features an original employment contract for the Nimrod expedition between Ernest Shackleton and the expedition's cook William Roberts. Unruly cooks had caused problems on previous Antarctic expeditions but Roberts was sound choice, who had experience both on land and sea and had most recently been the pastry chef at the Naval & Military Club. His work seems to have been appreciated. A visitor to the Cape Royd's kitchen years later commented "Shackleton's men must have fed like turkey cocks for all the delicacies here". Original contracts of this kind for Antarctic expeditions are extremely rare. We are aware of no other surviving copies of contracts for Shackleton's Nimrod expedition. It is priced at £6,500.

Image: No. 20 - Aurora Australis. The first book printed in Antarctica. 

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