Lost Antarctica Photos: Unearthed Negatives From Shackleton Expedition Yield Century-Old Photos
New Zealand's Antarctic Heritage Trust has uncovered and developed photo negatives from the expedition hut of Robert Falcon Scott, a British explorer who reached the South Pole in 1912. The clumped-together wad of cellulose nitrate negatives was found in the darkroom of Scott's expedition photographer, but they actually depict scenes from the 1915-17 stranding of Ernest Shackleton's Ross Sea Party, which made use of Scott's Cape Evans hut on Ross Island.
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The photos were uncovered as part of the Antarctic Heritage Trust's Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project, which has conserved over 10,000 objects from Scott's hut. The undeveloped negatives were discovered earlier this year and brought back to New Zealand, where the clump was separated and the 22 negatives carefully treated and developed. The entire set of photos can be viewed here. (And be sure to check out the incredible Google Street View of Scott's hut.)
"It's an exciting find and we are delighted to see them exposed after a century," said Nigel Watson, Antarctic Heritage Trust's Executive Director. "It's a testament to the dedication and precision of our conservation teams' efforts to save Scott's Cape Evans hut."
The negatives, which were relatively undamaged despite being squished together for almost a hundred years, depict identifiable parts of McMurdo Sound, where the Ross Sea Party's ship was anchored until it drifted out to sea, leaving the stranded party to take shelter in Scott's hut. Two of the pictures are of Alexander Stevens, the party's chief scientist. The party's photographer was Arnold Patrick Spencer-Smith, but it isn't known whether he was the one who took the photos. Along with two of the other ten men stranded on Ross Island, Spencer-Smith died before the 1917 arrival of a rescue ship.
The lost Antarctic photos aren't the first newsworthy find by the Antarctic Heritage Trust. In 2010, five crates of Mackinlay's whisky and two crates of brandy were found beneath Shackleton's 1908 base at Cape Royds. One of the whisky crates was thawed in New Zealand, revealing 11 whisky bottles. Three of the bottles were sent to the parent company of Mackinlay's, where the master blender analyzed the whisky and created an exact replica. A bottle of the stuff can be yours for about $165.
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