Rare photograph uncovered at National Library
7 October 2009
A “small brown image” which has been confirmed as the world’s only known vintage print of the Amundsen expedition’s arrival at the South Pole in 1911, has been uncovered at the National Library of Australia.
The vintage print was in an album of photographs entitled “Tasmanian views” acquired by the National Library in 1965 from the descendants of Edward W.Searle. Searle worked for photographer J.W. Beattie in Hobart in the early 1900s and explorer Roald Amundsen supplied the negatives to Beattie. It is believed the negatives no longer exist.
The image was uncovered by the Curator of the Picture Collection at the National Library of Norway, Harald Ostgaard Lund, while searching Google. This search led him to the National Library of Australia’s collection. Although the South Pole image is iconic in Norway, its Library only had later copy prints in its collection.
The National Library of Australia’s Curator of Pictures, Linda Groom, said with more than 700,000 images in the NLA’s Pictures Collection, many of the early photograph albums were catalogued as one volume – without separate cataloguing for each of the photographs inside.
“We are thrilled to discover this image which Harald has confirmed as the best in the world,” Ms Groom said.
“With such a vast number of images in our collection, it will be a long time before every single image, within an album, can be catalogued. Harald’s ‘find’ shows the benefit of this painstaking work.”
The image is expected to go on loan to Norway in 2011 for a special exhibition in Oslo to mark the 100th anniversary of Amundsen’s arrival at the Pole.
Linda Groom and Harald Ostgaard Lund are available for interview.
High-res images of the print are also available.
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