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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Bonhams Exploration and Travel Sale

Dr Edward Wilson’s first-hand account of one of the greatest and toughest voyages in history will be going under the hammer at Bonhams Exploration and Travel Sale on 16th September at New Bond Street.

Made famous by Apsley Cherry-Garrard as The Worst Journey in the World, Wilson’s report tells the story of the Cape Crozier Party’s journey in the midst of the darkness of the 1911 Antarctic winter, as they attempted to unearth some important information about the Emperor Penguin. This item is thought to be the only manuscript of its calibre relating to the heroic age of Antarctic exploration not now in institutional hands. It is estimated to sell for between £80,000 – 120,000.

In a detailed account of this heroic voyage, Wilson described the experience as “the weirdest bird’s-nesting expedition that has ever been or ever will be”. An impressive 40-page narrative, complete with detailed pencil sketches, illustrates the difficult challenges that the team endured. The meticulous sketches encapsulate key moments from the journey, from the party’s living arrangements and biological observations to atrocious weather conditions and severe setbacks.

Of particular note, numerous pencilled notes have been added by Captain Scott himself who, on arriving back, was overheard saying: “But, look here, you know, this is the hardest journey that has ever been made’’.

Jon Baddeley, Group Head of Collector’s Department at Bonhams, comments: “This item is without doubt one of the most important polar manuscripts to come on the market within the last 20 years. We are delighted to have this, and other manuscripts and artefacts from the Dr Edward Wilson Collection, in our inaugural Exploration and Travel Sale.”

Also included in The Wilson Collection, are records from Wilson’s role as official scientific artist for Captain Scott’s Expedition to the Antarctic. The collection includes an original photograph of Dr Wilson outside the winter quarters of the British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913 (estimated at £2,000 – 4,000). The photograph was taken by Scott’s official photographer, Herbert George Ponting and includes a poignant dedication slip to Edward Wilson’s father; “To Dr Wilson, Cheltenham. The father of one of the best and bravest men who ever stepped, I send this portrait of Uncle Bill, to have been whose comrade on Capt. Scott’s South Polar Expedition I esteem one of the greatest privileges of my life”.

In addition, a signed watercolour picture of a large iceberg by Wilson illustrates one of the many enchanting scenes that no doubt captivated all those taking part in the expedition. This particular lot is expected to fetch between £3,000 – 5,000.

The Exploration and Travel Sale features records from some of the greatest maritime voyages in history, ranging from Sir Charles Darwin to Captain Scott of The Antarctic. The sale will encompass travel books and manuscripts, atlases and globes, photographs and paintings from a number of well-known voyages from the 17th to the 20th Centuries.