Arctic and Antarctic exploration was the main theme of a library assembled over many years by architect Roger Casson (1943-2016).
Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Ian McKay
Although other travel books and local history were also on his shelves, it is the 200 polar lots in Tennants’ (20% buyer’s premium) January 10 sale that are the focus here.
One of 300 complete sets of Shackleton’s Heart of the Antarctic of 1907-09 sold well at £14,000 and one of 280 deluxe copies of James Murray and George Marston’s Antarctic Days of 1913 made a record equalling £8000.
North to the Arctic
There were, however, less familiar works on offer.
Sold at £5000 was an 1836 first in original cloth of Richard King’s Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Arctic Ocean. King had served under Captain George Back, whose own account of the voyage appeared that same year.
A copy of King’s book in Franklin Brooke-Hitching’s great travel library did make that same sum at Sotheby’s in 2015, and another in original boards reached £5500 at Bloomsbury Auctions in 2010 – but both bore presentation inscriptions.
Two 1850 firsts of Robert Goodsir’s Arctic Voyage to Baffin’s Bay and Lancaster Sound, one of many published accounts of voyages in search of Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition, were offered. That bearing a presentation inscription from Goodsir’s sister made a record £2600.
Other accounts of Franklin searches included John Rae’s 1850 Narrative… of 1846-47 at £3000, and Lieutenant JR Bellot’s Memoirs… [and]… Journal of 1855. The latter made £2400.
A number of official HMSO ‘Blue Books’ relating to those Arctic searches were led at a record £5000 by an 1852 example in cracked and worn but original wrappers of Additional Papers relative to the Arctic Expedition under the Orders of Captain Austin and Mr William Penny. It is illustrated with 15 charts, six of them folding.
The ex-Dartmouth College library copy in the FB-H library, inscribed by Sir Edward Belcher, made £3400.
A seven-page autograph account by Frank Wild of his Antarctic experiences was, at the request of her grandfather, written in 1917 in the commonplace book of a Miss Kathleen Blocksidge. Containing a tipped-in and signed photograph of Wild, it realised £7500 at Tennants.
Wild served on no fewer than five Antarctic expeditions. As second in command to Shackleton in 1916-18 he was left in charge of the Endurance crew members on Elephant Island when Shackleton and four others made their epic, 800-mile open boat journey to South Georgia to raise a rescue party.
In young Kathleen’s book, Wild describes icebergs, the taste of seal and penguin meat: “The penguins are really nice, the legs taste like mutton and the breast very like hare.”
He also tells of petrels, penguins, skuas and sea leopards, of close escapes from killer whales and of his affection for the sledge dogs and how sad he was when they had to be shot.
Abandoned on island
Sold at £1100 was a 1939 first in dust jacket of Thomas Wyatt Bagshawe’s Two Men in the Antarctic…, the definitive account of a now largely forgotten expedition of the early 1920s to Graham Land.
One online academic source reveals that expedition leader JL Cope and his deputy stayed just six weeks after being landed on the island by Norwegian whalers, and after helping to build the hut, effectively abandoned the other two members of the expedition during what proved to be a hazardous winter.
It also notes that Bagshawe and his companion Lester, in the belief that they would in the end be paid, vigorously pursued a varied scientific programme until picked up by Norwegian whalers.
Another commentator, quoted in the entry for an inscribed, presentation copy sold for £1500 in the FB-H library, reveals that Bagshawe, “being a geologist of sorts and a man to finish what he starts… holds his own in an the annals of Polar exploits”.
In 1942 Bagshawe also published a children’s book called Pompey was a Penguin.
Belated expedition diary
Published in an edition of just 75 copies, the Diary of W Lashly is the work of a man who served as a naval petty officer on two of Scott’s expeditions, but was only produced many years later, in 1938-39, as an exercise for his printing students at Reading University.
In the original pink boards the copy seen at Tennants made £3500.
The last lot in the collection, sold at £3200, was a two-part work comprising a quarto volume and a portfolio that together present 167 plates, including 23 folding panoramic views and two folding maps in the latter, relating to Scott’s British National Antarctic Expedition of 1901-04.