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Three page folded letter from John Close to Alice Close, Antarctica 1911

2003.0083.0012

Three page folded letter from John Close to Alice Close, Antarctica 1911

Object information

Description

Written by John Collinson Close, an 'assistant collector' on the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911-14, led by Douglas Mawson.

Physical description

A three page handwritten letter in black ink on folded cream coloured paper with the printed letterhead 'AUSTRALASIAN ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION 1911.' Handwritten at the top of the first page is the heading 'Adelie Land / Antarctica / Lat 67.0 S: Long 142.36 E / 6 November 1912'. The letter begins 'My Own Dear Wife / Kindest Greetings to / you my Beloved!...' and is signed 'John'.

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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