South Pole Centennial Events

(I've had this photo and its story since 2009 but couldn't figure out where to put it. Anyway...) Amundsen and crew at Pole in 1911
Meanwhile back in Norway, this newly discovered photo was on display. From left: Roald
Amundsen, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel and Oscar Wisting; photo by Olav Bjaaland

This "small brown image" was confirmed in 2009 as the world's only known vintage print of this seminal event--it was discovered by Harald Østgaard Lund, the Curator of the Picture Collection at the National Library of Norway, who was searching Google. The photo had been cataloged in a massive collection "Tasmanian Views", held by the National Library of Australia (NLA). The collection had been cataloged and scanned in 2002, although the individual images were not well identified individually. The photo is an iconic image in Norway, but no original images exist--only versions based on the image published in Amundsen's book The South Pole. Lund's examination of the image led him to determine that it had been printed from a negative--the only such copy known. Lund subsequently traveled to Canberra to confirm the photo's value.

Hobart was Amundsen's first port of call after returning from Antarctica in 1912. He telegraphed reports of his successful expedition to the world. His photographs were developed in the studio of Tasmanian photographer John Watt Beattie. The "Tasmanian Views" collection was put together by Australian photographer Edward William Searle to document his career highlights; the collection was acquired by the National Library of Australia in 1965 from descendants of Searle.

Some items to note...many of the other versions of this photo show edited views of the flags on top of the tent...and perhaps a thinner Amundsen than is visible in the above image. Judge for yourself:

Amundsen's team at Pole
Here is the Wikipedia image, taken from one version of Amundsen's book. It's considered to be in the public domain in the US but not in some other parts of the world.
60 year anniversary version
This colorized version should be familiar to most Polies--it is one of two such photos presented to the station by Finn and Jackie Ronne on 7 December 1971.

Amundsen's tentAnother source of this image is a hand-colored glass slide, one of a collection used by Amundsen in his "magic lantern" lectures, which he gave around the world, partly to raise money for his past and future ventures. These colored slides were thought to have been lost, but a box of them was found in the attic of Amundsen's nephew's widow in 1986...and published in a now-rare book The Amundsen Photographs by Roland Huntford. Fortunately I acquired a copy of this book in the late 1980's before it became rare--actually it was given to me by Rob Robbins and Sandra Ackley while we were all working for USAP in Paramus, NJ. At right is my scanned image of the tent from the photo in that book--the entire photo spans across two pages and I couldn't figure out how to scan the whole thing properly. And here is more information about the tent...

The photo was on display in Oslo in 2011 as part of the Norwegian Polar Institute's "Nansen Amundsen 2011" jubilee celebration.

Other notes...here is the 2009 NLA press release about the uncovering of the photo. This is NLA's catalog collection page showing the photo (note that I was given permission by the NLA to display the photo). This 7 October 2009 ABC article discusses the photo and the apparent flattening of Amundsen's stomach.

Perhaps most significant is this article "The South Pole in 'Tasmanian Views'" by Harald Østgaard Lund, the discoverer of the photo--it appeared in the September 2010 issue of the National Library Magazine. He discusses the various versions of this photo and their significance.

(back to my coverage of the South Pole Centennial)