Polar book is sold off for £53,000

A book printed in the Antarctic which ended up in a Northumberland stables yesterday became the most expensive volume to be sold in the North-East.

A book printed in the Antarctic which ended up in a Northumberland stables yesterday became the most expensive volume to be sold in the North-East.

One of only 100 produced at explorer Ernest Shackleton's overwintering base, it was sold for £53,000 by Newcastle auction house Anderson & Garland.

What is technically the first book printed in the Antarctic had been signed by Shackleton to Lady Grey, the wife of Albert Henry Grey, 4th Earl Grey whose family seat was Howick Hall in Northumberland.

And it will be staying in the North-East as a Northumberland polar enthusiast beat off national and international interest, including bids from New York and Canada.

The book's covers are made from the thin wooden packing of a crate which contained marmalade and pony harness and seal skin were used for the binding. The 1908 British Antarctic Expedition was the second of four to the South Pole by Shackleton.

He took a small printing and etching press to relieve boredom and keep up morale during the long winter months holed up in the expedition base. Team members wrote items, illustrated by lithographs and etchings.

Auction house book specialist John Anderson discovered the book, which was sold by a descendant of Lady Grey, in a tea chest in stables.

He said: "It was a privilege to handle a book which resonates with history. It is an evocative rarity. Not only is the book phenomenally rare, but Shackleton did not sign every book, but he did sign this one to Lady Grey."

The books, never numbered, are known by the stenciled descriptions of what the packing cases contained, such as the chocolate, bottled fruit and coffee editions.

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