Christie’s to Auction Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Medals on October 8th

by Owen James Burke

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Above: Shackleton’s Royal Geographic Society Silver Medal (1904) and a photo of the young, strapping explorer. Image: Christie’s South Kensington.

Throughout his brief life and career, Sir Ernest Shackleton, who, enchanted by literature but bored with school, left formal education behind to join the Merchant Marine at the age of 16.

He wouldn’t set sail on his first exploratory expedition until July of 1901, when he was selected to join Robert Falcon Scott’s Discovery Expedition, the first British voyage into the Antarctic for 60 years.

Shackleton was sent home by Scott, with whom he was reported to have ill rapport (Scott only sighted that Shackleton was ill). Still, Shackleton wanted to continue his exploratory endeavors, and four years later set sail on what is generally accepted to be his most successful campaign, aboard the Nimrod.

Shackleton went on to earn over 40 medals and awards throughout his career, and on October 8th, 15 of them will be put up for auction by Christie’s in South Kensington, England.


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Above: Medals from Denmark (left) and Norway (right), whose own Roald Amundsen became the first to reach the South Pole, beating Shackleton in 1911. Image: Christie’s South Kensington.

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Above: A medal received in Antwerp after Shackleton returned from his first Antarctic expedition (in command), dated October 21, 1909. Image: Christie’s South Kensington.

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Shackleton’s Order of Merit medal from Chile, 1916, after not one of member of his expedition perished through the infamously treacherous Endurance expedition. Image: Christie’s South Kensington.

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Photo: Owen James Burke.

Shackleton may have facilitated the rescue of every single one of his crew, but among the few things he did leave behind in Antarctica–apart from the Endurance–were three cases of Rare Old Highland Whisky, which were only discovered in 2007, entombed beneath Shackleton’s hut at Cape Royds. Three of the bottles were subsequently shipped back to Scotland, where they are said to have been sampled, analyzed and ‘magically replicated.’ Read more in Neville Peat’s Shackleton’s Whisky, and learn more about Shackleton and his featured accolades in the upcoming auction at Christie’s South Kensington at Christie’s online. –OJB


Further (Required) Reading:

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