The race for the South Pole between Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott is one of the most legendary and tragic stories in polar history. Even today, new testimonies and historical artefacts of the Terra Nova expedition are found. They give a better insight into the events leading to the drama as well as showing the circumstances and environments endured by the men of the expedition. Recently, a new set of 52 negatives has been discovered, but which will come under the hammer of an auctioneer soon.
The Terra Nova expedition lead by Sir Robert Falcon Scott aimed to reach the South Pole for the first time. However, the Norwegian Roald Amundsen had the same idea and the whole story became a race, which was won by Amundsen. Scott and his 4 men Wilson, Oates, Evans and Bowers reached the Pole only 34 days later than Amundsen and perished on their return journey. Henry “Birdie” Bowers had been the photographer of the team, as the original expedition photographer, Herbert Ponting, had to stay back at Cape Evans. Now, 52 negatives from Bowers’ photographic trials are sold in an auction on April 18. The Scott Polar Research Institute is displeased with the decision as it sees itself as the administrator and keeper of the historical heritage of British Polar discovery.
The pictures by Lt. Henry Bowers show the beginning of the expedition in and around the camp at Cape Evans. Andrew Aldridge from Henry Aldridge and Son Auctioneer who are in charge of the auction, said:”The negatives offer an incredible snapshot into one of the most famous British Antartic expeditions of the 20th century. They show the brutal nature of the environment these brave men went on to endure. The clarity of the images is truly remarkable and includes previously unseen elements including the polar party marching, pitching tents and them having lunch.”
Bowers was trained to document the polar party’s advance by Hebert Ponting, whom Scott had hired as official expedition photographer. Ponting later took the negatives back to England as a part of the huge archive consisting of over 1,700 pictures. Scott should use these pictures after his return for lectures and fund-raising presentations. However, Scott never returned and the rights on most of the pictures were transferred to the Scott Polar Research Institute. Still, Herbert Ponting kept a few pictures, which were sold by his family to a private collector after Ponting’s death in 1935. One week ago, the auctioneer Henry Aldridge and Son Auctioneer announced to put the pictures under the hammer. The pre-sale estimate is between £30,000 – 50,000 (approx. € 40,000 – 70,000)for the pictures. The auction is scheduled for April 18 2015.
Scott started towards the Pole in November 1911. However, bad weather and bad planning soon slowed the expedition. They reached the geographical South Pole on January 17 1912, more than one month later than Amundsen. The return journey became a nightmare and the men suffered from starvation and frostbite. The first to die was Evans on February 17, followed by Oates on March 16 (who had heroically left the tent “and would be out for a while”. Last, Scott and his remaining two men froze to death locked in their tent due to a violent storm around March 29. Their bodies were found only eight months later by a search party.
Source: The Daily Mail, www.dailymail.co.uk