Aurora Australis: Shackleton, Ernest Henry
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Item #27461
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Aurora Australis

Author(s): Shackleton, Ernest Henry

Copyright: 1988, SeTo, Auckland
Specifications: Ltd ed #161/375, 8vo, [pp.212], 11 plates, uncut, blind-stamped leather spine, wooden boards stencilled "U L I E N N E S O U P, with pamphlet, 8vo, [pp.24], 11 bw photos, wraps, with plywood box w/ green cord ties
Condition: cords to box frayed, faint scuff line across leather spine, else fine

A Facsimile of the Rarest of Antarctic Books

A fine facsimile reproduction of the first book printed and bound in the Antarctic during Shackleton’s British Antarctic Expedition (1907-09). To keep his men occupied during the dark winter months in the Cape Royds hut, Shackleton asked for written stories, poems, or humorous short essays from his men, with the best to be published. Shackleton brought with them a small printing press, paper and type. The printing and publishing was co-ordinated by Ernest Joyce and Frank Wild, both of whom had undertaken short printing courses prior to their departure. George Marston provided illustrations and Bernard Day made the bindings from the crates used for provisions. The ink was heated by candles, and much of the printing was done when the other men were sleeping to minimize vibration. Shackleton wrote the introduction and preface and contributions were made by ten other members of the crew.

Approximately 80 copies of the first edition were produced in two states. The ‘first state’, rarest, has ten plates and a leaf of text in a chapter by Wild titled “An Ancient Manuscript” which was subsequently excised. Shackleton was concerned that a page of Wild's text, in which he describes five wealthy men meanly refusing to contribute financially to the Expedition fund, may jeopardise future fund-raising efforts, and therefore asked that the “offensive” passage be deleted. This was then replaced by an additional plate for the ‘second state’. Each copy of the first edition is unique in that the wooden packing boards used for binding were stenciled with different text based on the contents of the crates. This resulted in copies being known by their stenciling, eg. Butter, Chicken, Honey, Julienne Soup, Marmalade, Stewed Kindeys, Tinned Fruit, Turtle Soup, Veal, etc.

Two facsimile editions were later produced, one by Bluntisham (second state, 58 copies, 1986) and one by SeTo (first state, 375 copies, 1988) offered here. The SeTo facsimile is based on the Julienne Soup copy now in the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.


Conrad p.147, Meadows 319, Renard 1439, Rosove 304.C1, see Spence 1095.

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