1931. Sir George Hubert Wilkins MC & Bar (31 October 1888 – 30 November 1958) was an Australian polar explorer, ornithologist, pilot, soldier, geographer and photographer. These are covers from the Nautilus Expedition, also known as the Wilkins - Ellsworth Trans-Arctic Submarine Expedition 1931.
Both were sent by Carl Gustafson of Jamestown NY to "Sir Humbert Wilkins, c/o General Delivery, New York, NY". Both are postmarked New York, May 8, 1931. The one from "New York to Spitsbergen" was returned from Longyearbyen on 24 VIII 31 (August 24, 1931) and is SIGNED by Wilkins. The New York to London S.W. cancellation date is unclear. There is a handwritten note "3D senders excess". Both bear the purple stamp of the expedition, Wilkins - Ellsworth Trans-Arctic Submarine Expedition 1931, and image of an ice flow with a rainbow effect imitating Northern lights, New York to Spitsbergen (or London) and Registered. Both bear the original US stamps, British stamps or Norwegian stamps.
Both Ellsworth and Wilkins had crossed the North Pole before (Wilkins by airplane and Ellsworth by airship). It is said that "Wilkins first got the idea of a submarine expedition to the North Pole during his first polar expedition in 1913. The actual plan of the expedition, suggested by that expedition's commander Vilhjalmur Stefansson, came to fruition during Wilkins's honeymoon in 1930, while staying with Lincoln Ellsworth at his Swiss Castle in Schloss Lenzburg." (American Philosophical Society). The goal of taking scientific measurements under the ice was not fulfilled in any significant way. The submarine was plagued by accidents and mechanical problems. One seaman was drowned; the bridge was washed away, almost drowning two others, who miraculously managed to hang on to the submarine and crawl down the conning tower hatch. Engines failed, rudders were damaged with suspected sabotage. In September, the un-seaworthy Nautilus docked at Bergen, and was eventually sunk in a Norwegian Fjord in November 1931.
Very good used condition. Item #26704