Autograph letter from Scott, written in the Antarctic, possibly one of his last autographs. Antarctic, Autograph.
Autograph letter from Scott, written in the Antarctic, possibly one of his last autographs.

Autograph letter from Scott, written in the Antarctic, possibly one of his last autographs.

1910? In this letter, Scott writes in great haste and some annoyance to an unidentified recipient about the inability to fulfill the recipients request to send photos of the motor sledge. It is likely to have been a request by the manufacturer of the motor sledge. Scott brought three of them for this push to the South Pole and they were a severe disappointment. One sank through thin ice at Cape Evans; the other two broke down from the horrible surfaces, from overheating and mechanical problems, only 6 and 8 days out. They were not judged a complete failure because they eased the ponies' work load. Scott himself did not depart until November 1st and would only have learned about the motors as he came upon them. This was a disastrous beginning to the Southern Journey, as the 'Motor Party' had now become the first man hauling team on the outward leg, and the ponies dragging sledge loads far in advance of predetermined plans. Scott & his party never returned.

The letter is written in the present tense, which implies that it was written in the Antarctic. Scott would have had to have had the request for photographs before he left New Zealand the previous year. Perhaps Scott composed his reply letter and it departed with Pennell on the Terra Nova on 27 January 1911, but it's possible the letter was written later and/or held back at Cape Evans until the return of the ship the following year. [Our thanks to Michael Rosove for help in providing context for this letter.]

He wrote: "Dear Sir I regret there are no photographs of the motor sledge in my hands or those of my companions though there are a great number of cameras the results of which I may or may not be permitted to see! I'm afraid we cannot undertake to send you information as our hands are just full with practical work. Yours very truly R Scott" .

Plain cream laid paper with a partial watermark, 7 1/4 x 8 7/8". One period central fold, no letterhead. A small circle of paper is adhered to the upper margin of the first page.

The motor sledge had failed despite a 'Popular Mechanic' report that they did well on snow. A short, irritated yet controlled letter written in the Antarctic by RFS before he headed towards the South Pole, and his death. Very good condition. Item #23730

Price: $5,000.00

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