Ernest Shackleton's autograph: Pole position?

Ernest Shackleton achieved the impossible.

Like the Apollo astronauts who followed, he and his crew strode out into new territory.

The risk was enormous. Life or death.

Shackleton has long been a figure of fascination for collectors.

Here are some of the specific factors that affect the value of his autograph.


“If at first you don’t succeed” could have been Shackleton’s motto.

Shackleton failed on his first expedition.

Ernest Shackleton Autograph

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

A year of travelling and waiting before the march could begin.

Three months struggling through unimaginably tough conditions.

And, after all that, they ran out of food and turned back only 100 miles from the pole.

Five years later, in 1914, he went again. This time things went so badly the ship sank. The crew had to be rescued.

In 1921, he funded another expedition. The ship left for New Zealand on September 24 that year.

But Shackleton never set foot in Antarctica again

Shackleton died of a heart attack aged 47, while his ship lay at anchor in South Georgia.

Ernest Shackleton Autograph

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
His wife had him buried on the island, more than a thousand kilometres from the continent he spent his life trying to conquer.
It’s an incredible story.

Shackleton's bloody minded determination is inspirational. People around the world draw strength from the way he lived his life.

And it’s resulted in a large and enthusiastic market for his signature.


Shackleton lived during the age of written communication. His autograph is not especially rare. But letters and documents related to his expeditions are.

Ernest Shackleton Autograph

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Organisations like the British National Archives hold much of the supply. On occasion they appear on the private market.

Competition is fierce for the highest quality specimens.

In 2014, a Shackleton signed bill of sale for the Nimrod (the ship used on the first expedition) made $10,116 at Nate D Sanders.

That’s an exceptional result.

Handwritten letters usually sell for £1,000 ($1,276) and up, dependant on the content.

Paul Fraser.

PS. Do you have an Ernest Shackleton autograph you’re looking to sell? I may be able to help. Get in touch today at

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