Ice pick carried by geologist on Captain Scott’s South Pole expedition sells for £22,000 at Cambridge auction

Geologist Frank Debenham’s ice pick – £22,000 at Cheffins.

The ice pick carried by geologist Frank Debenham (1883-1965) during the doomed Terra Nova British Antarctic Expedition of 1910-13 sold for £22,000 (plus buyer’s premium) at Cheffins earlier this month. The estimate was just £200-400.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Roland Arkell

Debenham was a key member of the expedition, making extensive geological and topographical surveys of the mountains and glaciers west of McMurdo Sound, but an injured knee (from playing football in the snow) meant he missed the final push for the South Pole that ended with the death of Captain Robert Scott and the four others in his party.

Debenham later helped found the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge as a memorial, becoming its first director. He gave the 12in (30cm) hickory and iron pick as a gift to his friend and neighbour in Cambridge, Victor de la Perrelle, who then gave it to the current owner.

Luke Macdonald of Cheffins said: “The provenance of the ice pick is second-to-none and we’ve definitely seen an uplift in interest in collectors’ items from the early Arctic and Antarctic exploration.”