Ranulph Fiennes Steps In To Save Polar Negatives For Nation

Ranulph Fiennes Steps In To Save Polar Negatives For Nation - Sir Ranulph Fiennes steps in to save Captain Scott's polar negatives for the nation.

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Pony camp, Camp 15. Ponies (left to right) Snippetts, Nobby, Michael and Jimmy Pigg, Great Ice Barrier, 19 November 1911“Ponies tethered on the ice beside a man-made ice wall. Sledges in background.” SPRI P2012/5/76

The Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge has launched an appeal to save Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s ‘lost’ polar negatives. A last minute stay of execution means it now has until 25 March 2014 to save the negatives for the nation. 

Following careful negotiation, the vendors have agreed to extend the original deadline for the sale of these historic images. The Institute now has until 25 March to raise the necessary funds to purchase Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s rediscovered photographic negatives, taken in 1911 on the British Antarctic Expedition, for its Polar Museum.

As part of the Institute’s redoubling of efforts to secure the negatives, it has launched a video of Britain's greatest living explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, giving his full support to the appeal and explaining the importance of preserving the negatives for the nation. Fiennes stresses the uniqueness of the negatives and their importance both to the national heritage and to research.

In the video, Sir Ranulph Fiennes says: “The negatives of Scott’s lost photographs are of major significance to the national heritage. Scott’s attainment of the South Pole and his subsequent death captured the public imagination on its discovery in 1913 and continues to exercise an extraordinary fascination. The negatives are a key component of the expedition’s material legacy as an object and as a collection in themselves. Although the Scott Polar Research Institute holds prints of a number of these photographs, acquiring the negatives is very important. They take us right back to the point of origin, a fact made all the more exciting given that the Institute also holds the camera on which they were taken. Unlike a print, of which any number can be made, the negatives are unique and would be a huge asset to the Institute.”

The negatives are a record of Scott’s earliest attempts - under the guidance of expedition photographer Herbert Ponting - through to his unparalleled images of his team on the Southern Journey. The force, control and beauty of his portraits and landscapes number them among some of the finest early images of the Antarctic.

The Polar Museum is already home to the remaining prints of Scott's photographs, Herbert Ponting’s glass plate negatives and Ponting’s presentation album from the same expedition. Added to that are the prints and albums of all the other expedition members equipped with a camera. Together, they form the most comprehensive photographic record of the expedition held anywhere in the world.

For more information, and to watch the video, take a look at the University of Cambridge website

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