An important and incredibly rare unique personal archive of candid images documenting the return of Ernest Shackleton and his crews: The Weddell Sea Party and the Ross Sea Party after the failed 'Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1914–17'. The collection, comprising of one photograph album, and several related loose images, documents Shackleton & his Party on their return journey to New Zealand, and then shortly after at a private party - likely a 'welcome back' party (also in New Zealand.) Many of the images are presumed to have been taken on board the ship ' Aurora ' shortly after returning to port in Wellington when Shackleton opened the ship to the public in Feb 1917. A letter which accompanies the collection (Written by a relative of the original photographer) reads, in part: '...Photographs are from the effects of the late Mrs Alice Enid Blomfield, whose Father... Hon. FMB Fisher, was Minister of Trade and Customs in the New Zealand Government...as children my mother and her sister met visiting explorers etc on their return from the South Pole. On this occasion, my mother told me, she had the only camera available, although she was only 12 years of age, and took the enclosed photographs herself.' 'FMB Fisher' relates to Francis Marion Bates Fisher who, as well as being a member of New Zealand's parliament was also a noted Edwardian Tennis Player - and had many 'celebrity' friends during this period.
The collection consists of the following images:
A small 5x8 cm photograph of ' Gunnar ' - one of the expedition dogs - shown aboard Aurora.
Another 5x8cm photograph depicting ' Oscar ' which is annotated to reverse ' one of the two dogs that saved the mens lives ' and to the front 'one of Shackletons dogs'
A 5x8cm photograph labelled to verso ' Gazelle - pet mascot ' depicting a young tethered Gazelle aboard the ship.
A larger photograph measuring 8cm x 10.5cm, in album, depicting Shackleton and crew at a party held in the ' Harcourt's Garden '. Heavily annotated to the base of the photograph, Shackleton and his crew are shown grouped and posing for the photographer. The crew shown, all from the expedition party, comprise of: Alexander Stevens (Chief Scientist), John Cope (biologist), Joseph Stenhouse (First Officer aboard The Aurora ), Irvine Gaze (General Assistant), Ernest Joyce (Explorer - in charge of Sledging the dogs), Ernest Shackleton, Frank Wild (Shackleton's Second in Command), Keith Jack (Chemnist), Dick Richards (Physicist), and Frank Worsley (Captain of Endurance).
A slightly smaller printing of the same image ( 7.5cm x 10cm) annotated to margin ' Sir Ernest Shackleton and Party ' and then dated, somewhat illegibly, ' 1917 .'
Also in the same album; a photograph taken of ' Sir Ernest Shackleton ', likely at the Garden Party, shows Shackleton in hat and jacket, standing alone outside. Measures approx 10.5cm x 8cm.
A 10.5cm x 8cm photograph showing Irvine Gaze , likely at the same garden party as the aforementioned. Standing, posing for the photographer.
A loose photograph 10.5cm x 7.5cm depicting Ernest Joyce aboard Aurora with one of the dogs and her litter of puppies - which were rather famously reported as later being put up for auction in Wellington as 'souvenirs' of the expedition. Joyce sits alongside the dog whilst looking towards the camera. A rather charming image, seeing as the dog somewhat had saved his life.
The photograph album included within this lot is also rather interesting. Belonging to the young lady who photographed Shackleton, the album shows pre-WWI First World War scenes of New Zealand Naval ships, crews and officers. Also photographed are the ships: HMS Philomel , HMAS Encounter , HMS Torch , various on-board views of HMS Philomel (including several of her crew and officers ), various Garden Parties and similar events (usually involving high-ranking military personnel), Japanese Officers, and various other related images - themselves - fascinating. A rare and interesting insight into the lives of the New Zealand owner.
Supplied with the photographs and album are some original gelatin negatives - some of those being of the Shackleton images, others for related images within the album.
Accompanying the collection is a 1923 reprint edition of ' South ' ' The Story Of Shackleton's 1914-17 Expedition ' by Ernest Shackleton. Neatly inscribed to the inner frontis ' Raymond S Shackleton - for my Father, Ernest Shackleton ' and is dated 8.1.39. Presumably given to the family many years later by Shackleton's son.
An incredible and important collection.
About the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1914–17:
The fateful Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition started in 1914, and was an attempt to make the first land crossing of the continent. The expedition failed, and instead became recognised as an incredible feat of endurance. Split into two crews – the Ross Party and the Weddell Party. The Weddell Party – including Shackleton himself - ran into trouble almost immediately when their ship HMS Endurance became stranded in the ice and later sank, stranding the 28 man crew on the ice. The crew remained in makeshift camps for months, until they manned the remaining lifeboats and rowed to the uninhabited Elephant Island. From there, Shackleton and five others were then able to make an 800 mile journey in an open boat to South Georgia where they could mount a rescue mission for their comrades. Meanwhile the Ross Party also faced hardships when their ship the Aurora was blown from her moorings and drifted away, similarly stranding its crew on the ice. Three lives were lost from the Ross Party. Shackleton would later rescue, and refit the Aurora and use it to rescue the stranded men.
Note: from the large Fisher / Blomfield family archive consigned to this sale. The collection comprises of items from Francis ' FMB ' Marion Bates Fisher (a famous Edwardian Tennis Player ) and features items from the lives of his entire family (most notably that of his eldest daughter Esther Fisher who went on to become an international pianist, his other daughter was Lady Esther Frances Barron and his youngest daughter Alice Blomfield (nee Fisher) whose husband - Siegfried Blomfield - was a noted soldier during WWII and whose daughter (Juliet Blomfield) went on to become a ballet dancer). The family owned many properties both in the UK and New Zealand, and were extremely well travelled. Their friends and acquaintances were some of the most notable characters of our time - Ernest Shackleton , Winston Churchill , Maxine Elliott , Henry Wadsworth Longfellow , John Singer Sargent but to name a few. An incredible collection, of great social interest.