Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History

Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 194. Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914—A.H. Macklin | Letters, documents, and photographs of Shackleton's expeditions.

Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914—A.H. Macklin | Letters, documents, and photographs of Shackleton's expeditions

Lot Closed

November 15, 04:32 PM GMT


7,000 - 9,000 GBP

Lot Details


Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 1914, and later—Alexander Hepburne Macklin

A collection of autograph letters, documents, photographs, etc., of Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic Expeditions, comprising:

i. Typed letter signed from Shackleton to Macklin, dated 16 May 1914, responding to Macklin's letter of April 23rd, requesting that Macklin sees him "in London on my return from Norway" for an interview, and asking whether he has any hobbies or skill as a photographer, 1p, 4to, on paper headed "The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition | 4, New Burlington Street, | Regent Street, | London, W.";

ii. Autograph letter signed from Shackleton to Macklin, dated 30th May 1914, composed "further to my letter of May 16th", informing Macklin of Shackleton's return from Norway, asking Macklin to set a date for visiting him in London for a "preliminary interview" and requesting that Macklin gives "the longest possible notice" before arriving, since "at the present moment it is one constant rush", 1p, 4to, headed paper;

iii. Macklin's contract of employment for the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Typed "Agreement made on the 21st day of July 1914 between Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton [...] and Alexander Hepburn Macklin", dated in manuscript and signed by Shackleton and Macklin, and by James McIlroy as witness (the second surgeon on the expedition), 4pp, 4to, folded, creased at folds with one tape repair and slight dampstain at lower margin;

iv. Autograph letter signed, from Macklin to his parents. pp.1-3 Addressed from "S.V. Endurance | Nr. South Georgia, November 3rd 1914" Macklin hopes that a "Whaler may take it [the letter] in good time to wish you a merry xmas", mentions a range of subjects including his duties handling dogs, praises Shackleton ("I like Sir E. very much & Wild also; the former is a very cheery chap & Wild seems a very thorough man. Sir E. is very thoughtful, & constantly brings little things to the man at the wheel... He seems very different to the man I saw ashore"); pp.3-14 dated November 27th 1914, recounting episodes from Macklin's diary; pp.14-19, dated November 19th, recounting Macklin's trip to a "magnificent glacier", his sightings of "sea elephants, & baby seals, & a few sea leopards", and bemoaning the fact that his parents will not receive the letters before Christmas; pp.18-19 dated November 21st, 19pp in all, 4to, previously folded, some creasing and staining;

v. Autograph letter signed, from Macklin to his parents. pp.1-2 addressed from "Hospital | Grytviken | S. Georgia | Nov 30th 1914", declaring that "[t]his is absolutely our last peep at civilization" and noting that he has stocked up on plates and film for his camera; pp.2-3 dated December 3rd, expressing Macklin's optimism about resuming the expedition and declaring that "all the party so far are strong & in good health", 3pp in all, 4to;

vi. Account of Wages for "Dr. A.H. Macklin" for the Trans-Antarctic Expedition, dated "this 1 day of Dec[ember] 1916", typed sheet with manuscript annotations, 2pp, 4to, previously folded, light spotting; with typed letter addressed to Macklin from Hutchison & Cuff Solicitors, dated "2nd December 1916", informing him of their intention to "forward [...] a cheque for £308.17.1. being the amount due in accordants with the particulars inserted in the enclosed Account", 1p, 4to, previously folded;

vii. Macklin's account of the Trans-Antarctic Expedition. 7 stapled sections of typed prose, headings to each section ("Inception", "London-Buenos Aires", "S. Georgia", "The Pack Ice", "The Great Ice Barrier–New Land", "Preparing for Winter", "Winter"), a few minor corrections in pencil, 43pp in all, 4to, some light spotting at margins; 3 further autograph manuscript sections, with manuscript headings to each section ("The Spring", "Good-bye 'Endurance'", "A few extra notes"), 25pp in all, 4to, some light marginal staining;

viii. Envelope of newspaper cuttings about the Trans-Antarctic Expedition, labelled in manuscript "Cuttings r.e. Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition | of 1914-15-16", a few dated in manuscript, staining and tears to envelope;

ix. 14 photographs of the "Quest" on the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition. Comprising 8 images of the "Quest" moored in St Katherine's Dock, London, each 116 x 158mm., photograph labelled on verso "Ramsgate. The Pilot & his wife. Jeffrey. Visitors", plus unlabelled duplicate, each 153 x 92mm., photograph labelled on verso "Sir Ernest Shackleton, Mr Rowett, & Mr Williams, Plymouth", 73 x 93mm., 2 further photographs of the "Quest", and photographic negative of crew member sitting on boom, each c.152 x 92mm.; 

x. Macklin's contract of employment for the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition. Printed "Agreement made the sixteenth day of September One thousand nine hundred and twenty one Between Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton [...] and A.H. Macklin", dated and with Macklin's job description and salary in manuscript, signed by Shackleton, Alfred Hutchinson, and John Quiller Rowett, self-wrappers, 8pp, 4to, previously folded; with further typed document headed "SHACKLETON-ROWETT EXPEDITION" and dated "August 31st, 1921", addressed from Macklin to Shackleton, 1p, 4to, previously folded, small closed tears at extremities and rust mark from old staple;

xi. Autograph manuscript of Macklin's "Influenza amongst the Lapps", which would later appear as an article in The British Medical Journal (April 3, 1920, pp. 465-466), 8 numbered pages, mostly folio, folded, residue from paperclip in upper margins;

xii. Typed leaf headed "Dr. Macklin. References to him in: Frank Arthur Worsley: Endurance. An Epic of Polar Adventure", 1p, folio, folded

xiii. Miscellaneous papers, some related to Macklin's time serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps, including typed medical orders, with envelope labelled in manuscript "Orders &c. from Major A.H. Macklin RAMC [Royal Army Medical Corps] | Italy and Russia", 3pp in all, folio, folded, wear to folds and small marginal tear to envelope; envelope with documents addressed to Thomas Thornton Macklin, dated June 1893, concerning his appointment as Medical Inspector of Seamen for the Port of Scilly, 13pp in all, 8vo and folio, folded, worming and staining; envelope containing printed list of examination results for "University of London. General & School Examinations for Matriculation, June 1904", including Thornton B. Macklin's name on pass list, 52pp., folio, self-wrappers, folded; papers related to the military careers of A.H. Macklin and T.T. Macklin, 18pp in all, between 8vo and folio, some wear

A fascinating collection, held in private hands since the 1970s, which gives a deeply personal insight into two defining episodes in the history of polar exploration spearheaded by Sir Ernest Shackleton. In particular, the collection tells the story of how surgeon Alexander Hepburne Macklin OBE (1889-1967) participated in the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1917), an epic feat of human endurance which cemented the legends of Shackleton and his men through their stoical resolve in the face of adversity. It also gives a poignant glimpse into the ill-fated Shackleton-Rowett Expedition (1921-22), the tragic final chapter in the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, upon which Shackleton himself would meet his untimely demise.

This expedition's audacious goal was to attempt the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent, which remained, in Shackleton's own words, the "one great main object of Antarctic journeyings".

According to the Scott Polar Research Institute, Macklin "travelled to London and presented himself at Shackleton's office" having failed to obtain a response from his initial application, and "was accepted as one of the two surgeons [...] after a typically random interview" (SPRI, "Meet the pioneers"). But the typed letter signed (dated 16 May 1914) and the autograph letter signed (dated 30 May 1914), included in this lot, both suggest that Shackleton did have a shrewd sense that Macklin could be an asset to his expedition.

The autograph letter signed from Macklin to his parents, dated between November 3 and November 21 1914, gives a tantalising glimpse into Macklin's experience of the expedition in its early stages. In this letter, he retains a breezy optimism as he provides comic character portraits of the dogs under his care. Such an "unwaveringly positive attitude" (SPRI) would make Macklin a popular crew member later on in the expedition, when he and fellow surgeon Jim McIlroy had to tend to various afflictions—physical and mental—amongst the crew members stranded on Elephant Island, ranging from heart conditions to mental breakdowns and gangrenous toes. This letter is also notable for its expression of genuine respect for Shackleton, and for Macklin's sense of wonder towards the strange and forbidding landscape before him.

Equally intriguing are Macklin's unpublished typed account of the Trans-Antarctic Expedition, and 12 photographs of the early stages of the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition, showing "The Quest" moored in St Katherine's Dock, at Ramsgate, at Plymouth, and at sea. Shackleton remained famously stoical, even brusque, after suffering a suspected heart attack in Rio de Janeiro, refusing a proper medical examination from Macklin. But the image of Shackleton standing between Rowett and Williams at Plymouth is not of a physically robust figure, hence foreshadowing the tragic events of 5 January 1922, when the great polar explorer suffered a fatal heart attack, brought about by overexertion.