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Potter & Potter's Antarctic Expedition Sale Realizes $630,000

Potter & Potter Auctions has announced the results of the 430 lot sale held on October 12, 2023. The auction had an average lot value of nearly $1,500 and prices noted include the auction house's 20% buyer's premium.

The top lot in this sale, the original 35mm motion picture camera used to film parts of Richard E. Byrds' first Antarctic expedition, estimated at $30,000-50,000, made $40,000. The footage produced from the camera would go on to be used for the film “With Byrd at the South Pole,” issued in 1930.

The camera was used between 1928-30 by Paramount Publix Corporation cinematographers Willard Van der Veer and Joseph T. Rucker, the first professional cinematographers in Antarctica who also won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, the first documentary to win an Oscar.

Other outstanding lots in the sale included Ernest H. Shackleton's The Heart of the Antarctic, Being the Story of the British Antarctic Expedition of 1907-1909 and The Antarctic Book. Winter Quarters 1907-1909, estimated at $20,000-30,000 and which sold for $28,800. The three volume first limited edition (no. 104 of 300 copies) was printed in London by William Heinemann in 1909 and was signed by Shackleton and 16 members of the shore party.

Yoshitake Shima's Nankyoku Tanken to Kotaijingu no Hosai or South Pole Expedition and the Enshrinement of Kotaijingu, estimated at $10,000-15,000 made $36,000. Printed in Tokyo by Shiso Zendo Tosho Kankokai in 1930, this first edition is considered by many to be the rarest first-person narrative related to this expedition. Shima, who was also a Shinto priest, served as purser aboard the Kainan Maru and clerk on the Japanese Antarctic Expedition during both seasons.  

Samuel Clemens' (“Mark Twain”) The Innocents at Home, estimated at $10,000-15,000,  made $37,500. The copyright edition, signed twice by Twain, was printed in London by Bradbury, Evans and Co. for George Routledge and Sons, c. 1893. This example, possibly a unique copy with an interesting contemporary binding may have been intended for a special customer.  

Zenya Taniguchi and Yoshimasa Kimura's Hokuyo Nankyoku no Kaitaku-sha: Shirase Chui or Pioneer of Northern Antarctica: Lieutenant Shirase, estimated at $12,000-15,000, fetched $33,600. The fully researched biography, published in Toyko by Daichi-sha in 1940, was a first edition, limited issue, presentation copy and one of only 15 copies produced - and the only one known to be extant today. Signed by both authors, the book was considered by Potter's experts to be one of the rarest and most significant items in this collection.

According to Chris Brink, Director of Fine Books and Manuscripts at Potter & Potter Auctions, "Nobu Shirase made his first big splash onto the market with our polar sale last Thursday. We, along with Chet Ross, have now created a demand for ... Japanese Antarctic rarities amongst the auction world and we look forward to offering more scarce exploration titles in the near future."

Potter & Potter, founded in 2007, is a Chicago area auction house specializing in paper Americana, vintage advertising, rare books, playing cards, gambling memorabilia, posters, fine prints, vintage toys, and magicana - antiques and collectibles related to magic and magicians. For more information contact Chris Brink, Director of Fine Books and Manuscripts at (773) 472- 1442 or chris@potterauctions.com.