New York: Brewer, Warren & Putnam, 1931. Near Fine. First Edition. Deluxe limited number 211 of 275, 8vo [9.75x6.75in]; xiv, 347 pp. signed original silver gelatin photograph, on stiff paper, frontispiece of Wilkins with tissue guard, 37 images and illustrations, including double page diagram of the Nautilus, errata slip tipped in on verso of title page; Original three-quarter dark blue cloth with gray paper covers, gilt lettering on spine in gilt border design, top edge gilt, fore and bottom edges untrimmed, some pages unopened; Signed by Wilkins and Sloan Danenhower, the Nautilus Captain, and warmly inscribed to Joseph Robinson by Wilkins on limitation page; Slightly soiled and darken spots on covers and edges, spine soiled at top and bottom, Steve Fossett collection bookplate on front end paper; Slipcase of gray paper with blue paper labels on front and spine with gilt lettering inside of gilt line border; Slipcase very soiled and damp stained, some cracks along top joint edges and fore edge corners, ink note and arrow on back of "Stains from the Submarine" (This may be unlikely from Wilkin's submarine, as only 29 Contributor's editions, in metal slipcases and inscribed by the contributor's best wishes to Wilkins and the crew for a successful trip, were known to have been on the submarine). A very nice copy of a scarce book. [Howgego III p. 683]. Item #13601
Sir George Hubert Wilkins (1888-1958), an Australian, was one of the last great explorers of the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration in the early 1900's. He was part of the British Expedition to Antarctic Graham Land in 1920-21, which, of the four members, two wintered over and produced meteorological, tidal and zoological data. He was an ornithologist on Shackleton's last expedition to study the Southern Ocean (The Shackleton-Rowett expedition on the Quest 1920-22). In 1926 and 1928, Wilkins commanded the Wilkins-Detroit Arctic expeditions with Carl Ben Eielson to explore drift ice and make the first Trans-Arctic flight from Point Barrow, Alaska to Spitsbergen Is. in the Barents Sea. For this, and his other achievements, he was knighted by King George V. Wilkins led two Antarctic flight expeditions on Graham Land in 1928-29 and 1929-30, which were the first to fly inland. They made significant discoveries that proved the existence of the Antarctic Peninsula instead of an archipelago of islands.
Lieutenant Sloan Danenhower (1885-1967) was an experienced US Naval officer that commanded the Nautilus on the expedition. He was the son of Lt. John Wilson Danenhower (1849-1887), who was selected by Capt. George De Long to participate in the US Arctic Expedition (1879-1881) on the Jeannette. The Jeannette steamed through the Bering Strait to prove the theory that a warm current led to the Open Polar Sea. This was not the case, and the ship was beset by the ice and was crushed. The crew walked to open water, separated into three lifeboats and sailed to the Lena Delta. Only one party, led by George Melville and including an invalid Danenhower, found a settlement and were saved. All others, including De Long perished.
The inscription to Joseph Robinson by Wilkins reads "To Mr. Joseph Robinson with sincere appreciation of his interest in and assistance in connection with the carrying out of the plans put forward herein, Sir Hubert Wilkins 1931". Given the connection with the US Navy and government, this may be Senator Robinson, a long standing Democratic senator from Arkansas and minority leader of the Senate at the time.
This book is unusual in that it was written before the expedition in case they did not return and to enlist sponsors for the expedition. The plan was to use a modified World War I diesel and battery powered submarine under the ice covered North Sea from the Barents Sea to the Bering Sea. The plan was dependent on the ability to drill through the ice for ventilation of the diesel engines when charging the batteries. The expedition only made it under the ice for a few miles north of Spitsbergen Is. when equipment failure force Wilkins to turn back. The only book on the results of the short voyage is in Norwegian by Dr. Harald U. Sverdrup, the chief scientist, "Hvorledes og Hvorfor Med 'Nautilus'". An attempt at a second voyage, was cut short by the start of World War II.
The transit under the Arctic Sea ice was accomplished 28 years later by the nuclear powered USS Nautilus in August 1958. Following on a week later, the USS Skate was able to partially surface near the North Pole. When the Skate returned to the United Sates, Sir Hubert was invited aboard for dinner and a conversation about the transit and his experiences. Sir Hubert Wilkins died in December, 1958 and his ashes were taken by the USS Skate to be committed at the North Pole.
Steve Fossett (1944-2007) was a successful commodities trader and an adventurer that set world records in balloons, sailboats, gliders and unique powered aircraft. In 2002, he was the first person to solo circumnavigate the world in a balloon, uninterrupted and unrefueled, and, in 2005, made a solo nonstop unrefueled flight around the world in the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer sponsored by Richard Branson. In the 1980's Fossett began developing a library collection of books on adventure and exploration. He enlisted the services of an experienced bookseller to assist in building a collection of more than 2,000 volumes focusing on significant and authoritative accounts of aeronautics, polar, Asian, Australasian, circumnavigation's, mountaineering and others. In September, 2007, Fossett disappeared on a solo flight in a light aircraft over the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. After an extensive search, the wreckage was found by hikers a year later along the rugged Mt. Ritter range, about 10 miles east of Yosemite National Park.