the most luxurious publication on antarctic exploration
SHACKLETON, Sir Ernest Henry. The Heart of the Antarctic. Being the Story of the British Antarctic Expedition 1907-1909 ... With an Introduction by Hugh Robert Mill ... & an Account of the First Journey to the South Magnetic Pole by Professor T.W. Edgeworth David. London, William Heinemann, 1909.
4to, three volumes, including The Antarctic Book. Winter Quarters 1907-1909. Comprising: volumes I-II (The Heart of the Antarctic): original full vellum, upper boards with gilt-blocked 'At the Sign of the Penguins' devices, spines lettered in gilt, top edges gilt, others uncut, brown silk markers; pp. I: xlviii, 372; II: xv, [1 (note)], 419, [1 (blank)]; 2 mounted photographic frontispieces from photographs with printed tissue guards, 12 mounted colour-printed plates with printed tissue guards, and 200 monochrome plates, including 4 double-page; 3 folding colour-printed maps after Douglas Mawson, Eric Marshall, et al., and one folding panorama loose as issued in a pocket on the lower pastedown of vol. II; illustrations, diagrams and plans, some full-page, titles printed in ochre and black and with woodcut publisher's devices; volume III (The Antarctic Book): original vellum-backed boards, spine titled in gilt, top edges gilt, others uncut; pp. 54, [2 (imprint, verso blank)], two leaves with woodcut heading 'THE BRITISH ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION 1907 1909' on two pages above the signatures of 15 members of the Shore Party and Mackintosh, 4 colour-printed portraits of members of the Southern Party (Ernest Shackleton, Jameson Boyd Adams, Eric Marshall, and Frank Wild) after George Marston mounted on thick grey paper, and 6 etchings after Marston; woodcut initials and 'At the Sign of the Penguins' device printed in ochre, title with woodcut publisher's devices; one lower corner of spine with slight bump, offsetting onto free endpapers of III, and foxing to etchings in this volume, otherwise and apart from the occasional minor spot, a very good and clean set, from the library of the polar explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson (see below).
First edition, de luxe issue, no. 4 of 300 sets, including the first and only edition of the Antarctic Book, with the signatures of all members of the shore party and Mackintosh. 'The three-volume special edition [of The Heart of the Antarctic] is one of the most handsome productions in the Antarctic canon. Nothing was spared by the publisher and printer to style the volumes as beautifully as possible. The work is sumptuously bound in vellum, in large quarto format with broad margins around the typeset, and printed on thick, high-quality, deckle-edges paper specially watermarked "1907 BAE 1909". The full-page photographic plates are outstanding [...] Marston's watercolors are vibrantly reproduced, each mounted on a sheet of thick, brown paper with a titled tissue guard. The Antarctic Book possesses the coup - a double page signed by all members of the shore party' (Rosove). The signatures comprise those of the fifteen who had wintered at Cape Royd, together with that of Aeneas Mackintosh: 'After Mackintosh lost his right eye in an accident on board the Nimrod on 31 January 1908, which necessarily excluded him from consideration of inclusion in the shore party, he went back to New Zealand. The next season, he returned to the Antarctic and became a member of the Bluff depot party. Shackleton trusted him and likely included him in the book signing to honor him. Shackleton later put Mackintosh in charge of the Ross Sea shore party during the 1914-17 expedition' (Rosove).
The Antarctic Book contains Shackleton's poem 'Erebus' and Douglas Mawson's 'Bathybia' (both extracted from the legendary Aurora Australis) and is illustrated with four portraits of members of the Southern Party, and six etchings after Marston; of these six, three were included in Aurora Australis, two were created for The Antarctic Book ('Mount Erebus in Eruption' and 'Giant Toadstool'), and the portrait of Frank Wild was first published here. The volume is known in two states; Shackleton's poem 'Erebus' was typeset from Aurora Australis and, due to the running head 'Aurora Australis', it was set as two separate poems in one state of The Antarctic Book, an error which was then rectified by the re-setting and cancellation of quire d (as here).
Conrad p. 148; Rosove 305.A2; Spence 1096; Taurus 57.
Provenance: Vilhjalmur Stefansson (1879-1962) was an eminent Canadian-Icelandic anthropologist and polar explorer, who during the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913–16, which ended with the loss of the ship Karluk in the Arctic seas, shared two members of Shackleton's Nimrod expedition of 1907–09. Alistair Forbes Mackay, one Nimrod veteran, was the expedition's medical officer, the other one was the oceanographer James Murray. Both had been among Shackleton's crew members who signed the volume. A typed, signed and loosely-inserted one-page note by Stefansson written in Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, where Stefansson kept his extensive library, dated Christmas Eve, 1960, confirms the personal relationship between members of the two crews. 'Of those who signed these two pages I knew or know Armytage (sometimes spelled Armitage), David, Mackaye, Mawson, Murray, Priestley, Shackleton, Wilde. Mackaye was eventually surgeon and Murray oceanographer of our Karluk (Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913-18) and both were lost after the sinking of the Karluk in early 1914 … David and Mawson I came to know in Australia during 1924 … Shackleton told me the last time I saw him (1920) that David and Mawson did not sign with the rest because they were not in Britain when this special first edition of his Heart of the Antarctic was published and that extra pages had to be mailed to them for signing in Australia' (original spelling retained). It is this note by Stefansson which explains why the leaf with the woodcut and empty space underneath reserved for signatures had to be bound in twice. The reason was apparently not known to the bibliographer Rosove.
This copy was presented by Vilhjalmur and his second wife Evelyn Stefansson Nef, a singer, actor, sculptor, and photographer, later to become a successful psychotherapist, whom he had met in 1939, while preparing exhibits for the Icelandic pavilion at the New York World's Fair. The inscription in Evelyn's hand and signed by 'Stef' on the front fly-leaf of volume one of the set reads 'To dear Mary and Charles. Welcome young members of the Polar Circle as they embark on a new life Together, with love and admiration - Stef and Evelyn, Hanover, N. H. Christmas Day, 1960'.