Ernest Shackleton's Antartic biscuit makes $1,950 at Christie's Auction
The 100-year-old biscuit was left behind by polar explorer Ernest Shackleton's Nimrod expedition
Paul Fraser Collectibles, Friday 30 September 2011
A 100-year-old polar expedition biscuit has sold for £1,250 at a Christie's auction in London.
The Huntley & Palmer's biscuit was discovered in Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic hut at Cape Royds in 1960.
It formed part of the supplies from the Nimrod expedition; Shackleton's failed attempt to reach the South Pole during 1908 and 1909.
Fortified with milk to help maintain strength, the biscuits were designed with energy rather than taste in mind.
"The people in the team didn't like the biscuits, but it just about kept them going," Nick Lambourn, Christie's director of exploration and travel, told the BBC.
Shackleton got to within 112 miles of his goal, the closest attempt by anyone up to that point.
Norwegian Roald Amundsen's expedition eventually cracked it, arriving at the South Pole on December 14, 1911.
The sale was some way short of the £7,637 record for a biscuit, achieved at Christie's in 2001 for crumbs from a biscuit taken on Shackleton's near-disastrous Endurance expedition in 1915.
The story behind the sinking of the Endurance and Shackleton's subsequent row to safety aboard a life-boat no doubt attracted the bidders on that occasion; an example of the importance of the story behind an artefact for auction purposes.
Five cases of whisky, abandoned on the Nimrod expedition, were discovered last year. Should they ever appear at auction we expect them to surpass the figures achieved for the biscuits.
The auction also saw the sale of a pocket diary of explorer Captain Scott, which sold for £27,500, far above its £10,000 high-end estimate.
Recent and related articles
· This antique workplough could push to 'Champion' status at Cowan's sale | 24 September 2011
· Antique street fighting fireman carving could bring $90,000 in North Carolina | 22 September 2011
· Letters about RMS Titanic sinking will cross the auction block in New York | 22 September 2011
Guides and analysis