Harrowing Captain Scott letters sell for $107,800 at Christie's

A letter detailing the discovery of the bodies of Antarctic explorer Captain Scott and his colleagues has sold at Christie's.

The document, written by Apsley Cherry-Garrard, the photographer of Scott's Antarctic preparations, and a member of the search party, was among a single lot of 27 letters he wrote from 1901 to 1913 that sold for £67,250 ($107,802).

Scott body letter
"We have found the bodies of Scott, Wilson & Bowers..."

The previously unknown collection sold comfortably within its £50,000-80,000 estimate at Christie's Travel, Science and Natural History auction in London on October 9.

"We have found the bodies of Scott, Wilson & Bowers, and all their records," Cherry-Garrard writes.

"The long fight before must have been most terrible. Wilson & Bowers had died quietly, probably in their sleep. We went 20 miles to see if we could see any trace of Oates' body - but we could not see anything."

The letters also display Cherry-Garrard's concerns regarding the expedition's public perception, as Thomas Venning, a director at Christie's, explains: "With hindsight, it feels as if it was always a given that the death of Scott and his companions would be hailed as a paradigm of British heroism, but the letters show us the real fear amongst the expedition members that they would be received as failures, and be subject to hostile criticism, particularly in the press."

The auction also featured Scott's marching compass that he used during part of the expedition, which sold for £37,250 ($59,712), almost doubling its £20,000 estimate.

The results are further evidence of the collecting public's fascination with the expedition, in this, the 100th anniversary of Scott's death.

A letter written by Captain Scott just days before he died sold for £163,250 ($261,300) at Bonhams in March, beating its estimate by 8.8%.

Scott, thought to be the last man of the five man party to succumb to the elements, died just 11 miles from a supply depot.

Meanwhile a manhaul sledge harness, employed by his fellow explorer Ernest Shackleton, who had accompanied Scott on his earlier 1901-1904 Discovery expedition, sold for £17,500 ($28,053).

We have a signed letter from Shackleton, written to his wife less than a year before his death.

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