The Voyage of the "Scotia" - Being a Record of a Voyage of Exploration in Antarctic Seas by Three of the Staff
RUDMOSE BROWN, R.N; MOSSMAN, R.C; HARVEY PIRIE, J.H.
Edinburgh & London, William Blackwood. 1906.
First edition; 8vo; original publisher's pictorial cloth, top edge gilt, white lettering and blocking to spine. Half title, 59 plates after photographs, 3 maps (including 2 folding). Inscribed at the head of title page to George Lockhart Ross 'from his ever affectionate old friends "The Trio", Christmas 1906'. A scarce presentation copy from all three authors ("the trio"), most likely inscribed to George Lockhart Ross in Mossman's hand. Loosely enclosed is a picture postcard of the “Scotia” over wintering in the South Orkney Islands, signed on picture side by expedition leader William Speirs Bruce. The was posted in Edinburgh in April 1904 to Professor Ralph Copeland, Astronomer Royal for Scotland at the Blackford Hill Observatory. William Speirs Bruce by 1900 was Britain's most experienced polar scientist. But having fallen out with Sir Clements Markham and refused a place on the Discovery Expedition, Bruce obtained independent finance and support from the Royal Scottish Geographical Society. Although overshadowed by Robert Falcon Scott’s, Discovery Expedition, the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition (SNAE) has been described as "by far the most cost-effective and carefully planned scientific expedition of the Heroic Age. Following the expedition, more than 1,100 species of animal life, 212 of them previously unknown to science, were catalogued; there was no official acknowledgement from London, where under the influence of Markham the work of the SNAE tended to be ignored or denigrated. Bruce received no formal honour or recognition from the British Government, and the expedition's members were denied the prestigious Polar Medal despite vigorous lobbying. After the SNAE, Bruce led no more Antarctic expeditions, although he made regular Arctic trips. His focus on serious scientific exploration was out of fashion with his times, and his achievements, unlike those of the polar adventurers Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen, soon faded from public awareness. It is believed by some that the aversion of the London geographical establishment may have arisen from Bruce's overt Scottish nationalism, reflected in his own prefatory note to this book, "While Science was the talisman of the Expedition, Scotland was emblazoned on its flag; and it may be that, in endeavouring to serve humanity by adding another link to the golden chain of science, we have also shown that the nationality of Scotland is a power that must be reckoned with". The SNAE's permanent memorial is the Orcadas weather station, which was set up in 1903 as "Omond House" on Laurie Island, South Orkneys, and has been in continuous operation ever since. Professor Ralph Copeland was a frequent traveller on world wide expeditions and observed the 1874 and 1882 transits of Venus from Mauritius and Jamaica, respectively, and undertook other astronomical observations from Greenland. In 1889, Copeland became Astronomer Royal for Scotland. A very good copy. A note in the Taurus collection states that coloured printing on the cover and spine of the book must have been experimental, as many copies suffer from degradation of the white pigment. The white lettering and blocking to spine on this copy is no longer visible. There is a little spotting to the text block and endpapers and slight wear to the extremities.