Item #135312 Two vintage stereophotographs from Shackleton's British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1909 (the 'Nimrod' Expedition). British Antarctic Expedition, Professor Tannatt William Edgeworth DAVID.

Two vintage stereophotographs from Shackleton's British Antarctic Expedition, 1907-1909 (the 'Nimrod' Expedition)

In 1907 Sir Tannatt William Edgeworth David (1858-1934) was Professor of Geology at the University of Sydney, with a world-wide reputation, when 'Ernest Shackleton invited him to journey south with his expedition and return in the "Nimrod" at the end of the summer.... [In] December 1907 David, with two former students (Sir) Douglas Mawson and Leo Cotton joined Shackleton in New Zealand. Even before his Antarctic landfall, David had decided to stay with the expedition ... [as] the promise of scientific work (and, no doubt, adventure) in such remote parts was tempting beyond refusal. David's fiftieth birthday passed within sight of the active volcano Mount Erebus (3795 m). In March he stood on its summit, leader of the first successful climbing party. Impressed, Shackleton next spring gave him charge of an attempt to reach the south magnetic Pole. The journey of four months during which David, with Mawson and a young Scots doctor Forbes Mackay, dragged laden sledges from sea-level up more than 2200 m to their goal on the ice plateau and back, covering in all some 1250 km, has passed into the annals of polar exploration as an epic of courage and endurance' ('Australian Dictionary of Biography').

David brought with him to the Antarctic a state-of-the-art Stereo Graflex camera, with the photographs intended as a personal record. This heavy, bulky stereoscopic camera was not taken on the sledging expeditions, which means the resulting images focus on the voyage south from New Zealand, and the lives of the expeditioners, and the landscape, in the vicinity of the Winter Quarters at Cape Royds. Significantly, these two stereophotographs on offer record a pioneering event. 'Shackleton's 1907-1909 British Antarctic Expedition. A Journey in 3-D', by Ron Blum, published in 2016 by the South Australian Museum, reproduces these images and tells their story (pages 30-31).

'Another first for Antarctica was the arrival of the motor car, seen here being brought down onto the ice on 3rd February [1908]. Shackleton in the white top lends a hand too. It is a New Arrol-Johnston motor-car of 12-15 horse-power with some special features including an air-cooled engine instead of the standard water-cooled type which would freeze. The exhaust pipe passed through a hopper filled with snow to provide hot water. Another innovation for this era was a non-freezing motor oil. Flagstaff Point is in the distance'. In the second one, 'The car, now on the ice, was given a trial run but the wheels soon clogged up and sank into even the hardest snow. Generally the car was not a great success but in the spring after shedding some weight and using chains on the rubber tyes it was able to tow sledges across the sea ice'. There are a further two pages on the vehicle (pages 72-73) at the end of the book.

This rare limited-edition work concentrates on the stereophotographs of Edgeworth David, reproducing the images in 3-D, and each copy of the book comes with a 3-D viewer. This unusual book is not only rich in images, but also the insight and knowledge that only an enthusiast can bring to his subject. For instance, we discovered that 'David passed his Stereo Graflex to J. Francis "Frank" Hurley, official photographer on Mawson's subsequent Expedition'. A copy of the book is included with the stereophotographs.

Provenance: Sir Douglas Mawson; by descent. [3 items].

Item #135312