In recent weeks, there have been some reminders about the excitement which can be associated with the collectibles of intrepid explorers.
A week ago, New Zealand auctioneer Webb’s offered an embroidered waistcoat which is believed to have belonged to the explorer Captain Cook, who discovered and charted regions all around the world, especially in Australasia.
Probably Cook’s waistcoat
The bids didn’t quite reach the rather overcooked predictions bandied around beforehand, but an impressive offer of $370,000 was made, though it’s understood that the consigner may still be holding out for more.
Just a few days ago, Christie’s unveiled an auction which is to offer the 101-year old diary of the doomed Captain Robert Scott.
The diary reveals something of his planning for the Terra Nova expedition, from which he would never return. As well as dating an audience with the King, there is a somewhat poignant note about his intention to publish a list of companies whose supplies had served them well.
Christie’s expect the diary to make £6,000-10,000 ($15,750), which seems slightly on the conservative side.
Scott belonged to the age of the ‘Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration’. A third officer on Captain Scott’s earlier Discovery Expedition of 1901–04, who had been forced to retire from that mission, led a more successful – and certainly less disastrous – mission than Scott’s own.
That man was Ernest Shackleton, whose expedition reached the closest point to the South Pole – 97 miles off – that had been managed at that time.
Shackleton’s memorabilia is highly coveted. We have a high quality example in stock ourselves in the form of an affectionate letter to his wife, less than a year before he died.
The most famous collectible associated with Shackleton however is rather more unusual: whisky bottles.
Shackleton and his team were forced to abandon some items on return from his expedition, including a crate of McKinlay & Co whisky. This was finally retrieved, thawed and tasted this year with distillers hoping to recreate a form of the long-lost liquor.