Ernest Shackleton’s Aurora Australis sets new record

A rare copy of Ernest Shackleton’s Aurora Australis has sold for £68,000 ($86,353).

We believe this to be a record price for the book at auction.

Shackleton and the crew of the Nimrod expedition (1907-1909) printed an estimated 100 copies while they waited for the long Antarctic winter to end.

Aurora Australis Shackleton

Around 65 copies of Aurora Australis are known to exist

They’re unnumbered, so it’s difficult to be too precise, but around 65 are known to have survived to the present day.  

The book features essays, illustrations and poetry and was produced in a tiny hut on the windswept Cape Royds on McMurdo Sound.

Shackleton was well aware that months of enforced waiting in cramped quarters could damage morale.

The project was a way of ensuring, as he put it, that “the spectre of Polar ennui” never reared its head.

It was executed on a printing press (operated while the crew were asleep to reduce the vibration) and bound in packing crates.

Often these rudimentary bindings display their original contents. This example features stencilling that reads "B43936/ 25.1LB TINS/BRITISH".

It’s a second state printing, as the colours were changed slightly and a potentially offensive reference to some potential backers was removed.

A collection of photographs taken in the remote Himalayan kingdoms of Bhutan and Sikkim in 1905 realised £40,000 ($50,786).

It includes one of the earliest photos of the spectacular Paro Taktsang Monastery, which clings to the edge of a cliff in Bhutan’s upper Paro valley.

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