(ARCTIC.) Photograph album from the 1901 Peary Relief Expedition. Approximately 376 albumen photographs, each 3 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches to sight, mounted in 47 album leaves. Folio album, original calf, worn, front cover detached; minimal wear to contents. Vp, 1901
Estimate $3,000 - 4,000
The great Arctic explorer Robert Peary set out on an expedition to northern Greenland in 1898, accompanied by his African-American colleague Matthew Henson. An 1899 relief expedition found that he had lost most of his toes to frostbite but refused to return south for treatment. His wife Josephine and her young daughter Marie went north to join him in 1900, hoping to convince him to return. No word was heard from any of the Pearys by the end of 1900, so a third relief expedition was sent aboard the ship Erik in 1901 to rescue them. Financed and organized by the Peary Arctic Club, it included a small professional crew and several paying guests who went in search of adventure. The well-heeled guests were soon pressed into duty as seamen and shared in the hunger as supplies ran short. When they finally found the Pearys and Henson in August 1901, Peary once again refused to head south, hoping to make another attempt at the North Pole. The relief party spent a few weeks hunting walrus to replenish Peary's food stores and then sailed south with Josephine and Marie on board. These photographs document all aspects of the relief expedition--crew members and guests at work and play; visits to Sydney, Nova Scotia and Port aux Basques, Newfoundland; Inuits encountered at Godthåb and Upernavik in Greenland; majestic icebergs and coastlines; and finally the weeks spent with the Pearys, Henson (illustrated) and their Inuit crew. This album apparently was presented after the voyage to expedition guest Herbert "Burt" Berri, a 19-year-old son of a Brooklyn newspaper publisher who appears frequently in the photographs. The photographer and compiler are unknown, although at least four men on the voyage are known to have taken photographs, including Berri himself. The story of this voyage is beautifully told in Gillis & Ayer's "Boreal Ties: Photographs and Two Diaries of the 1901 Peary Relief Expedition" (2002), which provides context for the present album. A copy of the book is included in this lot. A few of the images in the book also appear in the present album. with--Limond C. Stone. Autograph Letter Signed to Mr. William Berri, father of Herbert. Dr. Stone was another expedition guest, who had been Herbert Berri's professor at the Polytechnic Institute in New York. His letter reassures Herbert's father about Herbert's health and happiness, and describes life aboard the ship and their excursion to Port aux Basques. SS Erik off Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, 17 July 1901. Accompanied by a large unidentified portrait, believed to be of William Berri.