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Estimate: $ 7,000 - $ 10,000
(ARCTIC.) Photograph album from the 1899 Peary Relief Expedition. 175 silver print photographs, various sizes, mounted on 52 album leaves, a few with manuscript captions. Folio album, original stiff wrappers, backstrip ends chipped, otherwise just light wear; minor wear to contents including a couple of partly torn photographs and a few others coming detached. Various places, 1898-1899
Robert Peary's third Arctic expedition from 1898 to 1902 resulted in the discovery of the northernmost point on mainland Greenland at Cape Morris Jesup. The first relief expedition was planned for the summer of 1899, to bring supplies aboard the steamer Diana. This album was compiled by a participant in the relief expedition.
The Diana made stops at Sydney, Nova Scotia, and the larger settlements at Disko Bay and Upernavik, Greenland, before reaching Peary's base at Etah in northern Greenland. The photographs show everything one might expect, and more: Arctic scenery including glaciers, fjords, and icebergs; sled dogs; numerous groups of Inuit at work or with their children; shots of the Diana and its crew; and several walrus carcasses. Only a few of the photographs are captioned. One of them shows Matthew Henson, Peary's longtime colleague and the most notable Black Arctic explorer, who was with Peary in their still-controversial 1909 dash to the North Pole. Henson is seen wearing his furs on the ice as he prepares to enter an open rowboat. Robert Peary is named in one caption, standing outside his Etah headquarters with the expedition's physician T.F. Diedrich. Another uncaptioned shot of the pair is clearly from the same sitting. Another shows Peary, Henson, and Diedrich posed with more than 30 Inuit. Two photographs near the end show the Diana and its expedition members in Sydney, Nova Scotia on 20 July 1899, with long appended captions and photographer credits. The photographer is not credited for the other photographs, but they were likely taken by the relief expedition member who compiled the album. We have traced no other examples of these images.
3 photographs at the end are captioned from a different expedition, to Alaska. One is dated 18 August [1898?]. One shows four named men in a canoe, another shows the harbor at Skagway, and the last shows a party of Alaskan Natives in a canoe on the Yentna River near the southern Alaska coast. Another group of 10 uncaptioned photos near the end, printed on a different stock from the other Peary Relief photos, may also date from this Alaska expedition.
This album was apparently compiled by Frank Caspar Hinckley (1874-1935) of Bangor, ME, an 1896 graduate of Harvard who was part of an 1898 United States Geological Expedition to the southern coast of Alaska, and then spent the summer of 1899 as part of the Peary Relief Expedition in Greenland. Newspaper reports name him as part of the relief expedition's "Sportsmen's Party." He is named in the captions of photos from both expeditions in the rear of this volume. He spent the remainder of his life as a woodsman, mapping and exploring timberlands from Maine to Labrador; and then establishing parks and campgrounds in northern Maine.
Provenance: found at a tag sale by Connecticut antique shop owner Susan Snow.