Artefacts from the British Antartic Expedition Era

Published 6th January 2012

Sketch of a Penguin by Edward Adrian Wilson

A sketch of a penguin drawn by Edward Adrian Wilson in a small autograph album that is being offered for auction (FS13/272).

A modest cardboard box and contents brought in for auction has revealed an interesting collection of pieces from an important age of British Antarctic Expedition. Amongst the photograph albums and pictures are several pieces relating to the voyages of the Discovery (1901-1904), Terra Nova (1910-1913) and The Quest (1921-1922). Both ships eclipsed by their famous passengers Captain Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton.

A wooden handpainted dockyard sign used whilst The Quest was anchored at Millbay Dock in Plymouth would have been interesting for most collectors of Antarctica, but the addition of Shackleton’s signature in ink to the middle of the sign raises the desirability of the piece and its value to £400-600 at auction. A small horn paperknife engraved "Discovery" to the handle and wrapped in a paper label "paperknife from the Discovery" is estimated £100-£150.

Further Detail from Autograph Album

A detail from the small autograph album, whose contents revealed seven signatures from the crew of the Terra Nova, known most famously for Captain Scott's last fateful Antarctic expedition (FS13/272). Estimate: £1,000-£1,500.

A small autograph album revealed seven signatures from the crew of the Terra Nova, known most famously for Captain Scott's last fateful Antarctic expedition. Though Scott's signature is not among those in the album, his great friend and a fellow explorer Edward Adrian Wilson has drawn a small sketch of a penguin.

Wilson was affectionately known as 'Uncle Bill' by the crew of the Terra Nova and was described by Scott "I believe he is the finest character I have ever known". Wilson was one of the men to perish in the fateful return journey with Scott from the South Pole. The album, along with a framed sketch by Wilson is to be offered in the Maritime section of Bearnes Hampton and Littlewoods Fine Art Sale on 25th and 26th January 2012, with a pre-sale estimate of £1,000-£1,500.

All of the pieces had been collected by a lady who worked in Plymouth Marine Laboratory at the beginning of the twentieth century. She had worked with several of the scientific crew of the Discovery, and was known for her illustrations of marine biological specimens. Having remained tucked away for many years they, are an interesting reminder of the earliest expeditions of the South Pole.

Another Page from Autograph Album

A further detail from the small autograph album (FS13/272).


  • Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood
  • Fine Art Auction
  • British Antarctic Expedition
  • Photographs
  • Autographs
  • Edward Adrian Wilson
  • Captain Scott
  • Sir Ernest Shackleton

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