Relics from Scott's doomed Antarctic trip fetch 500,000 dlrs

Sep 23, 2010

Photographs, skis and other relics belonging to a scientist on Captain Scott's ill-fated Antarctic trip sold for 370,000 pounds (579,000 dollars, 434,000 euros), Christie's auctioneers said Thursday.

Canadian physicist Charles Seymour Wright was part of the support team that set off with Captain Robert Falcon Scott in 1910, although he turned back after a year, leaving Scott and four others to continue to the South Pole.

Ten months later, when Scott failed to return, Wright joined the 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 the adventurer and two of his colleagues.

Christie's said it was "thrilled" with the response to the sale of the collection late on Wednesday, which fetched over 100,000 pounds more than expected.

Wright's archive of little-seen photographs of Scott's expedition were the top selling item in the collection, going for 73,250 pounds. Other relics on sale included his sledging kit, and manuscripts.

Wright's grandson Adrian Raeside, who assembled the collection, said he was "delighted that the sale has attracted so much interest in the 1910 British Antarctic Expedition."

"The spotlight has been put on the lesser known members of that trip, and if Wright had not have found Scott's tent, no one would have known what had happened at the South Pole," he said.

Wright was studying physics at Cambridge University when he applied to join Scott's mission, which followed an earlier expedition in 1901-04. 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 Roald Amundsen's Norwegian party had already beaten him there. He and his four colleagues turned back but all died before they could make it home.

Wright discovered the dead men's journals, photographic negatives and other relics which allowed the tragic adventurers' tale to be told.

He died in 1975 after a distinguished scientific and naval career. After his retirement to Canada, he finally made it to the in the 1960s, on a flight with the US navy.

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