The South Polar Times

Comprising: Volume 1 - April to August 1902, Volume 2 - April to August 1903, Volume 3 - April to October 1911.


[SCOTT, Robert F. The South Polar Times Comprising: Volume 1 - April to August 1902, Volume 2 - April to August 1903, Volume 3 - April to October 1911.

Smith, Elder & Co., 1907.

First edition. Three volumes, the first two volumes numbered 20 from an edition of 250, the third numbered 156 from an edition of 350. Original navy blue ribbed cloth, lettered in gilt with gilt device to the upper cover. All edges gilt. In the "very scarce" (Rosove) printed dustwrappers. The first volume is illustrated with a sepia frontispiece, forty full-page illustrations, one full page map and 184 drawings in the text; the second with a colour frontispiece, twenty-seven full-page illustrations, one folding map and 136 drawings in the text; the third with a colour frontispiece, twenty-seven full page illustration, nine reproductions of photographs by Herbert Ponting, and fifty further illustrations, chiefly in colour, throughout the text. A fine set. The first two volumes, uncommonly, are entirely free from foxing, the third with only occasional spotting to preliminaries. The plates are free from the offsetting to which they are prone, though there is slight adhesion to one plate in the second volume. The dustwrappers, very rarely encountered and even then usually badly worn or restored, are in fine condition, with only a couple of minor repairs to the first two volumes. An exceptional set of a scarce work.
WITH: The two earliest variants of the rare original prospectuses, the letterpress broadside from 1903 and the single folio quire, with specimen page and subscription form, from 1904.

The magnificent Brooke-Hitching set of one of the most important contemporary records of the human side of life and existence during the heroic era of south polar exploration.
The South Polar Times is the reproduction of the first Antarctic newspaper. A single copy of each issue was typewritten and hand-drawn during the sunless months of the expeditions of the Discovery and the Terra Nova.
The first volume reproduces the first issues of the paper, one produced each month from April until August 1902 while the Discovery was anchored at Winter Quarter's Bay, a small cove of McMurdo Sound. Scott recounted that "the scheme for this publication was discussed long before the sun left us, and by general consent Shackleton was appointed editor. It was decided that each number should contain, besides the editorial, a summary of the events and meteorological conditions of the past month, certain scientifically instructive articles dealing with our work and our surroundings, and certain others written in a lighter vein." Illustrations were added, chiefly by Edward Wilson, to nearly every page.
The second volume contains the three issues produced in 1903,the second winter spent in the ice of McMurdo Sound. It was edited by Louis Bernacchi, having been selected by popular vote after Shackleton was sent back to England by relief ship due to illness early in the year. When Scott returned to the Antarctic on the Terra Nova the paper was again produced, this time under the editorship of Apsley Cherry-Garrard and was illustrated principally with tipped in reproductions of photographs by Herbert Ponting.
Shackleton's editorial for the paper's first ever issue invites contributions from fellow members, officers and men alike, "so that when the coming hundred days of darkness are over, we may look back upon them as having been not only tolerable but happy." The three bound volumes of the newspaper, made from the original issues, are testament to how the men of the Discovery and Terra Nova alleviated the monotony and melancholy of the dark months not just by sharing in each other's researches, but also through their wit, caricature, poetry, prose and art.
Inherently scarce by dint of their limitation, few copies have survived in good order. The weight of the coated paper has almost invariably proved too great for the gutta-percha bindings which have perished and become disbound. Sets as complete and beautifully preserved as this one are a rare survival indeed.

PROVENANCE: Franklin Brooke-Hitching, his initials pencilled to each endpaper.

Spence 1090, 1091 (prospectuses), 1094; Rosove 287, 291.

Stock ID: 38238


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