# 44043

FREEMANTLE, James

An Albion in the Antarctic (facsimile edition)

$950.00 AUD

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[London] : St James Park Press, 2019 (2022). Quarto (320 x 245 mm), quarter cloth over papered boards (reproducing the emblem of The Sign of the Penguin, the imprint of Aurora Australis), title label to spine, endpapers referencing the stamped boards of Aurora Australis, pp. [64], illustrated. Limited to 92 numbered copies.

The facsimile edition of James Freemantle’s stunning private press publication documenting the printing of Aurora Australis, the first book printed on the Antarctic continent, printed on a table top Albion Press during Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition, 1907-1909. An Albion in the Antarctic was printed letterpress in 2019 in an edition of 41 numbered copies which quickly sold out and are highly prized by collectors. In 2022 the publisher issued this high quality ‘facsimile’ edition printed offset lithography, in a limited edition of 92 copies, to attempt to satisfy demand for this title. This edition too sold out. 

A stunning example of contemporary private press documenting in fascinating detail the printing and publication history of one of the most significant private press books printed in the twentieth century, the Aurora Australis. 

The following description of the 2019 edition and this 2022 facsimile edition is supplied by the publisher:

This is the full story of the making of Aurora Australis, which was the first book written, printed, illustrated and bound in Antarctica, during Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition, 1907-9.

Antarctica is the coldest, highest, driest and windiest continent on Earth. Hostile and remote, even today attempts to visit and explore are fraught with difficulties and dangers. In this impossible environment, over one hundred years ago, Sir Ernest Shackleton planned a journey whereby he would take a small Albion hand-press, an etching press, Caslon Old Face type and materials, including Abbey Mills Greenfield paper, to produce a limited edition letterpress printed book, despite the conditions faced. It was bound using the stencilled packing cases in which the expedition took their produce and foodstuffs.

An Albion in the Antarctic is the definitive account of that endeavour, written from new and original research and from contemporaneous records from such institutions as the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, the Royal Geographical Society in London, the Saint Bride Foundation and other resources.

The edition provides a brief background for the reader, setting out worthwhile information on the history of Antarctic exploration and polar printing, as well as giving an overview on the Nimrod Expedition itself. There then follows greater detail and previously unrecorded information on the printing equipment used, the actual printing of Aurora Australis, as well as detailed bibliographic accounts on the edition produced and what occurred once the expedition returned to England. A brief census of institutional copies and further worthwhile reading is also included.

A FACSIMILE EDITION was released in 2023, which included an additional Foreword by Shackleton expert Jan Piggott (who had previously written an accompanying essay to the Folio Society’s own facsimile of Aurora Australis) and a new Preface, neither in the first edition.

Hand-printing of the first edition began at the end of 2018 and was completed by the beginning of 2020. It was printed letterpress with hand-set metal type on an Albion Press, emulating that used during Shackleton’s expedition. In keeping with such tradition, the whole book was printed one page at a time, as they had done in Antarctica.

The FACSIMILE EDITION is a complete re-creation of the first edition, printed by Offset Lithography at Northend Fine Print. Utilising digital Founder’s Caslon, graphic designer Mark Askam undertook the laborious task of tracing the digital text over the first edition, so that the quirks of not simply the page layout, but the spacing of the text itself, was adopted. As the digital type is not a precise match for metal type and digital spacing does not mimic a compositor’s hand-setting, this required word by word adjustments, line by line. This exacting replication results in an edition that goes beyond merely a facsimile.


TYPE

The first edition was hand-set in founders 14pt Caslon Old Face, being the same that would have been taken by Shackleton on the Nimrod Expedition. The endpapers are printed with founders Tea-Chest type, to emulate the stencilling used on the boards which covered the Antarctic edition.

For the FACSIMILE EDITION, digital Founder’s Caslon was used, drawn by the Caslon scholar Justin Howes, which is a replication that maintains the uneven edges and peculiarities of the original types.


ILLUSTRATION

The first edition features a wood engraving by Paul Kershaw, member of the Society of Wood Engravers and Associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, commissioned for the edition. This frontispiece required four print runs for each print, being made up of four separate woodblocks. The FACSIMILE EDITIONreplicates this frontispiece via a digital scan.

Further illustrative elements in both editions include: three original line block illustrations (a map of Antarctic, a table-top Albion hand-press, and the Nimrod ship); four original photographs from the expedition (printed for the first edition in a specially formatted manner which allows for the images to be printed on the same pages on which the letterpress text was also printed); and a variety of further photographs, page-spreads, line blocks and ornamented initials, some presented as fold-outs.

Institutions and individuals assisting in the production and presentation of these illustrations include: Mark Askam, Alex Schneidemann, Royal Geographical Society, Northend Fine Print and Centurion Graphics. ​

The first edition is printed on smooth white Zerkall watermarked paper 145gsm, with additional pages on light blue Zerkall laid paper, Sunome Senaka Japanese paper and blue Fabriano endpapers. Tip-ins and fold-outs are printed on 115gsm PhoeniXmotion Xantur paper. Bound into the book is an original Abbey Mills Greenfield paper, showing the same watermark on which Aurora Australis was printed.

The FACSIMILE EDITION is printed on 140gsm Woodstock Bianco, Woodstock Azzurro and 180gsm Materica Aqua from the fine Italian papermaker, Fedrigoni. The letterpress Foreword and Preface are printed on smooth white Zerkall paper. Tipped into the book is a section of original Abbey Mills Greenfield paper, showing part of the same watermark as above.

BINDING

The first edition is bound by Roger Grech, in woven cotton Dubletta RAF Blue and a repeat pattern cover printed on Abbey Mills Greenfield watermarked paper, the illustration taken from the original penguin press-mark used by the printers in their Antarctic edition. The book is housed in a two-tone blue cloth covered solander box.

The FACSIMILE EDITION is bound by Roger Grech and Hana Grace Remington, in woven cotton Dubletta RAF Blue and repeat pattern cover.