A postcard-format gelatin silver photograph of a dog-sled, with passengers and handlers, addressed to 'Miss Paquita Delprat | Adelaide | S. Australia'. Australasian Antarctic Expedition, Andrew WATSON.
A postcard-format gelatin silver photograph of a dog-sled, with passengers and handlers, addressed to 'Miss Paquita Delprat | Adelaide | S. Australia'

A postcard-format gelatin silver photograph of a dog-sled, with passengers and handlers, addressed to 'Miss Paquita Delprat | Adelaide | S. Australia'

There are light creases to three corners of the postcard, and the verso is a little foxed; the faint impression of the postmark (through an envelope, no longer present) is tantalisingly illegible; in excellent condition.

Surprisingly, the hand-written message is not from Douglas Mawson, Paquita's fiancé, and the image is not of the Antarctic. The full message is: 'Photo by Dr French (Arctic) of Alaska who wishes to make Douglas Mawson's (Ant-arctic) acquaintance in the Antarctic next year. Now for S. Australia - Where a woman who is passing before you sheds a light upon you as she goes (el poema de la vida). You are lost - you love - you have but one thing to do - To think of her &c. A. Watson'.

Andrew Dougald Watson (1885-1962) was appointed to the AAE as the geologist and photographer on the Western Base Party, Queen Mary Land, under Frank Wild. He was a graduate of the University of Sydney, where he met Professor T.W. Edgeworth David, and through him, fellow-graduate Douglas Mawson. Clearly, they were more than acquaintances, judging by this postcard. Douglas and Paquita became engaged shortly before he left for England in January 1911; the expedition departed Hobart on 2 December that year; the undated postcard was obviously sent sometime during that period.

Watson himself became engaged before leaving for the Antarctic; perhaps this inspired him to write the message, which quotes Marius' letter to Cosette from 'Les Misérables'. The photographer is also a man to be reckoned with: Dr Linus Hiram French was a pioneering (and long-serving) doctor in south-western Alaska, best remembered for his work among indigenous Alaskans during the Spanish influenza pandemic in 1918-19.

Provenance: Lady Paquita Mawson; by descent; gifted to a family friend.

Item #115812