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Equipment From Doomed Antarctic Trip To Be Auctioned

August 26, 2010

Personal effects and science equipment belonging to a physicist who accompanied Captain Robert Falcon Scott on his ill-fated expedition to Antarctica will be put up for sale in London next month, Christie’s auctioneers announced Wednesday.

Canadian scientist Charles Seymour Wright was part of the support team that set off with Captain Scott’s 1910 expedition. Wright turned back after a year, leaving Scott and four others to continue to the South Pole.

Nearly a year later, when Scott failed to return, Wright joined a search party and it was he who spotted the tip of a green tent poking out of the ice. Inside, he found the frozen bodies of Captain Scott and two colleagues.

Among the items that will be up for auction include Wright’s sledging kit, skis, scientific instruments, manuscripts and photographs. The items were gathered by Wright’s grandson and will be auctioned at Christie’s on September 22.

The items are expected to go for a combined total of 230,000 to 380,000 dollars.

“The collection is a poignant souvenir of one of the most famous and tragic journeys in the annals of exploration,” Nicholas Lambourn, director of Exploration and Travel at Christie’s auction house, told the AFP news agency.

“This extraordinary collection… takes us right back on to the frozen Antarctic continent with Wright and his fellow sledgers, supporting Scott on his historic and ultimately fatal sledging journey to the South Pole in 1911-12,” Lambourn added.

Wright was studying at Cambridge University when he applied to join Scott’s expedition. He became the team’s physicist, although he was also a glaciologist and navigator.

Scott made it to the South Pole in 1912, only to find that a Norwegian team headed by Roald Amundsen had already beaten him there. He and his four colleagues turned back but all died before making it off the continent.

Wright discovered the dead men’s journals, photographic negatives and other items which allowed the adventurer’s tale to be chronicled.

Wright died in 1975. He had an illustrious scientific and naval career. Wright finally made it to the South Pole in the 1960s after his retirement, aboard a US Navy flight.

Image Caption: Last expedition of Robert Falcon Scott. The image shows Wilson, Scott and Oates (standing); and Bowers and Evans (sitting).

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