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Life, September 1914, annotated by John Close


Life, September 1914, annotated by John Close

Object information


Included in the collection of John Collinson Close, an 'assistant collector' on the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911-1914. The article features a photograph captioned as being meteorologist Madigan, but Close has scribbled over it and annotated the margin with the correct caption: 'Lieutenant Ninnis / 7th Royal Fuseliers'. (Belgrave Ninnis, along with Xavier Mertz, perished on the AAE's infamous Far-Eastern Sledging Party which Mawson barely survived.)

Physical description

A 'LIFE' Magazine dated 'SEPTEMBER 1, 1914' with a red, black and white front cover featuring a portrait sketch of a man [Sir Douglas Mawson]. The cover is supported with adhesive tape at the spine, and the upper right corner is torn and missing. The magazine features an article beginning on page 227, titled '"Out of the Jaws of Death"'. The article features a photograph captioned as being meteorologist Madigan. This caption has been scribbled over and the page margin annotated with 'Lieutenant Ninnis / 7th Royal Fuseliers'.

Statement of significance

This collection comprises objects belonging to John Henry Collinson Close, a member of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) of 1911-1914, led by Dr Douglas Mawson. It includes a telescope and case; pocket compass; Bryant and May matchbox (used to keep Close's Morse code); diary entries and letters from Close to his wife Alice (three on AAE letterhead); a hand-stitched canvas pouch with a label written by Close in ink, containing two rock samples collected in Antarctica and sent to Alice by supply ship in 1912; a copy of Life Magazine from September 1914; newspaper cuttings of eight articles written by or referencing Close; three typescript letters, including correspondence from Douglas Mawson; handwritten copies of two poems, including one by Tennyson; a newspaper cutting of a Douglas Stewart poem; and a registered envelope addressed to Close.

The John Collinson Close collection dates from the 'heroic era' of Antarctic exploration, perhaps the last great period of geographical discovery on Earth. It demonstrates key events in a story that led to Australia's claim over 42% of the continent. Linked to this story, and to this collection, are simultaneous ties to the old notions of Empire and the assertion of a new national identity. Close's private letters and journalism reveal the contrast between the personal experiences of a lesser-known expeditioner and a venture, overshadowed by a mythologised leader, now abstracted into the national memory and imagination.

Object information

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