A rare scrapbook containing the personal correspondence of Robert C. Mossman, meteorologist on board the Antarctic Ship Scotia, recounting his experiences during the Scottish Antarctic Expedition between 1902 and 1905 - an upcoming highlight of our next Rare Books, Manuscripts & Maps auction on 06 May 2015.
The scrapbook, valued at £2,000-3,000, consists of letters written by Robert Mossman to his father and another relation, Isabella, charting his journey and experiences on board the ship, visiting destinations on his journey South such as Kingstown in Ireland, Madeira, the Cape Verde Islands, Port Stanley, the South Orkneys and Buenos Aires. Rare Books specialist, Cathy Marsden, tell us a little more “it recounts the story of the expedition in a very personal manner; there are thoughts on the extraordinary wildlife, life on board the ship and his meteorological work.”
The Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, led by William Speirs Bruce, officially lasted from 1902-1904. Notable achievements include the establishment of a manned meteorological station in Antarctic territory: the Orcades weather station was set up in 1903 on Laurie Island in the South Orkneys and was named "Ormond House". Cathy Marsden continued “ His letters to his father and Isabella give an excellent impression of his journey: he describes flying fish landing on deck near the Cape Verde Islands, shark infested waters before reaching Port Stanley, Christmas dinner on board the ship, catching a sunfish with a harpoon and being "frozen in" at Laurie Island for "nearly eight months"."
The Antarctic Ship Scotia, in which the expedition members sailed, was a refurbished Norwegian whaling ship. It was transformed into an Antarctic research vessel under Bruce's supervision. Robert Mossman was one of the six scientific personnel on board the ship and was the appointed meteorologist and expert in magnetics. Educated at the Edinburgh Royal High School and the University of St Andrews, Mossman became involved with meteorological work on Ben Nevis before embarking on the Scottish Antarctic Expedition.
There is also a letter from expedition leader William Bruce to Mossman's father, from Port Stanley on 9th February 1904, relating to Robert's work and some photographs taken at Port Stanley and sent home by Robert Mossman, showing penguins, a 'sea elephant', and views of Port Stanley – these original images were engraved and reproduced in the Edinburgh Evening Dispatch. The scrapbook contains three small very faded photographs showing the men on board the ship as well as many newspaper and magazine clippings relating to the expedition.
The final six letters in the book are sent in February and March 1905, as Mossman was writing meteorological papers in Buenos Aires and preparing to return home.
This fascinating volume of letters and sketches will be offered in our upcoming 06 May auction.