Last updated: 25 October 2021

Right image courtesy of John Hyatt http://johnhyattillustration.com


The Antarctic Circle will pay US$100 to the first person who can provide a copy of the original source along with the date and name of the newspaper it appeared in of the following advertisement:

"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success."

Bob Headland has added one case of Madeira to the reward!

And Alex Kirsch is "willing to toss in a bottle of premium horse soldier small batch bourbon" as well. (See https://horsesoldierbourbon.com/our-story)

The source of this often repeated advert and its variations (it even is featured on T shirts) has never been identified although many have sifted through scores of British newspapers in the attempt. It may very well be apocryphal. It is said to have been placed by Shackleton during the planning of his Nimrod expedition. Good luck!

UPDATE: Two responses so far (11 January 2001). The first from Dale Flashberg who says he believes it was the London Times ca. 1912/13. No winner there: The Times has often been noted as the source but no one's found the right issue yet. The second from Shane Murphy: "Never Appeared Anywhere, is my answer to the challenge. I've not been able to track down these precise words to my satisfaction, have never seen, physically, on microfilm, in a period newspaper, or elsewhere." If Shane hasn't been able to track it down, the $100 is probably safe in my pocket.

UPDATE: Martin L. Martens of Montreal e-mailed recently "...that Shackleton received 5000 applications as a result of a letter that ran in the London newspaper, The Times, on December 29, 1913. The source of this is the 1923 Hugh Robert Mill biography of Shackleton [The Life of Sir Ernest Shackleton, London: Heinemann, 1923. See page 195.]. The book, however, does not report the content of the letters nor does it mention an ad. As far as I could tell, the 1959 Fisher & Fisher biography [Fisher, Margery and James, Shackleton, London: Barrie, 1957. See page 298 where Shackleton's letter to The Times appears.] has no mention of the ad, but it does mention the 5000 applicants (along with a letter from 3 women). Roland Huntford's 1986 biography of Shackleton [Shackleton, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1985. See pages 362 and 365] reports the ad and attributes it to something titled "Quoted, The World's 100 Greatest Advertisements." Huntford also talks about the contents of stories from The Times on Dec. 29th and 30th, 1913 and gives a few quoted segments from those stories. Huntford casts doubt on the story of the ad and he read the stories from the London Times. ...It seems pretty clear from the material presented in the three biographies that the "ad" did not run prior to the Endurance Expedition. In these biographies, the consensus seems to be that the 5000 applicants responded to the newspaper letter or article in the Dec 29, 1913 issue of The Times. The 1923 Mill biography does refer to something that ran when Shackleton was recruiting for the Nimrod expedition and a few places refer to the "ad" as part of that expedition and something that ran in 1907. Shackleton was not as well known prior to the Nimrod expedition and recruiting people was an issue for him at that point."

Wendy Driver in London was kind enough to track down a copy of The Times article which is on page 6 of the Monday, December 29, 1913 issue: It reads:


We are able to announce to-day, with a satisfaction which will be universally shared, that Sir Ernest Shackleton will lead a new expedition to the South Pole next year.

Owing to the great expense involved, there has hitherto been some uncertainty as to the possibility of another British expedition in the immediate future; but it has now been definitely decided that the distinguished explorer will make a further attempt next year to add to our knowledge of the Antarctic continent, and that he will start from a South American port with the object of crossing the South Polar regions and returning to New Zealand.

The first intimation of this important decision is made in a letter to The Times from Sir Ernest Shackleton, which we publish below.


Sir,--It has been an open secret for some time past that I have been desirous of leading another expedition to the South Polar regions.

I am glad now to be able to state that, through the generosity of a friend, I can announce that an expedition will start next year with the object of crossing the South Polar continent from sea to sea.

I have taken the liberty of calling the expedition "The Imperial Trans Antarctic Expedition," because I feel that not only the people of these islands, but our kinsmen in all the lands under the Union Jack will be willing to assist towards the carrying out of the full programme of exploration to which my comrades and myself are pledged.

Yours faithfully,
4, New Burlington-street, Regent-street, W., Dec. 27.

Accompanying the article is a piece entitled "HISTORY OF POLAR RESEARCH." and a map entitled "AREA OF PREVIOUS EXPLORATION." which shows the Ross Sea sector and the routes of Amundsen and Scott to the Pole.

UPDATE: From a recent e-mail from Martin L. Martens:

"My search for "The Ad" continues -

I have access here in Montreal to microfilm of The Times so I have been reading the papers during the announcement of the Endurance Expedition and the Nimrod Expedition. There are quite a few articles and it is quite interesting to read the stories as they were published.

Shackleton announced the Endurance expedition in a letter that ran in the December 29, 1913 paper [reproduced above] and a number of stories follow over the following weeks. I've checked through The Times from December 1, 1913 to January 31, 1914 and did not see "The Ad". The story that ran on January 5th, 1914 seems to suggest that Shackleton was already swamped with applications and none of the stories mention the ad.

I also have read through February 1907 - the month that the Nimrod expedition was announced (Feb 12th was the exact date). Again, no ad there.

The first published appearance of the "Men wanted for hazardous journey" ad is a 1948 book by Julian Watkins "The 100 Greatest Advertisements". Unfortunately Mr. Watkins did not give an exact date for the ad. He attributes it to Shackleton but says it ran in a London newspaper in 1900. This would place the ad before Scott's Discovery Expedition and there's no reason that I can think of that Shackleton would have placed an ad for that expedition. As far as I have read, Shackleton responded to an advertisement by Scott.

So the mystery continues. Oddly enough, after my latest round of searching, I think that the ad was printed and does exist somewhere. First, the wording in the ad is consistent with the phrasing of 'situations-vacant' ads of the time. Second, it doesn't seem to me that Watkins would have made up that ad. I just wish he would have provided a specific cite. Watkins was an advertising copy writer and a possible source for him was a now defunct journal for copywriters 'Advertising and Selling'.

The Watkins' book is the source for the Huntford biography. My guess is that that biography is the source for the wider dissemination of the ad. It is quite interesting to see how people are using the ad and all the different ways that it is being used and cited.

I plan to continue the search. I'm having fun reading the newspaper accounts of the time. There are some other likely time periods and I have to consider other London Newspapers."

(10 March 2002)

UPDATE: From a recent e-mail from Michael H. Rosove:

"No, I don't have the answer, but someone a few days back approached me wanting to know if I knew. ... Like others, I checked all the usual sources and came up empty handed.

The only thing I could possibly add to the search is a recollection of someone years ago saying it was in the Daily Mail. If the ad had to do with the Nimrod, as I thought I remembered it did, it should have been early February 1907 when the expedition was announced (the time frame you have already noted). While the language of the ad has drama that we now know with hindsight would have been perfect for the Endurance, Shackleton couldn't have known beforehand that the Nimrod expedition wouldn't produce a dramatic story—and in point of fact it did. Shackleton would not have had to place any ad for the Endurance, given his reputation. ..."

(26 March 2002)

UPDATE: From a recent e-mail from Martin L. Martens:

"My research into Shackleton continues--I am preparing a paper on Shackleton and Leadership and, as one of the data sources, I am collecting newspaper articles from the early 1900s. As I transcribe the articles I am placing them onto one of my web sites. I'll have about a dozen up in the next week or so.


My RA did find a Shackleton advertisement [but not THE one], you can see it at:


(9 May 2002)

UPDATE: Julian Ayre—the grandson of Thomas Orde-Lees—says in the NOVA TV program (Shackleton's Voyage of Endurance) that his grandfather responded to "the" advert and that it appeared in the Personals of The Times.

"In a filmed recreation of that trip made three years ago, Mr Ayer said: 'My grandfather met Ernest Shackleton by replying to an advertisement that was in the personal columns of The Times that read, "Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success. Ernest Shackleton."
'And such an advertisement would be absolute catnip to my grandfather, Colonel Orde-Lees. He couldn't resist it.'"
Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article406962.ece (an article reporting on Julian Ayre's death in the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004.)

UPDATE: David Wilson e-mailed to say that he had seen a copy of Shackleton's Voyage by Donald Barr Chidsey (Award Books, 1967) on e-bay and that the cover features "the advert." I looked at my copy and it does indeed, although the wording is slightly different and there is no address given. It's almost certainly an artistic representation not based on an actual ad. Here's the wording: "MEN WANTED for Hazardous Journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success. --Ernest Shackleton" [Honor would have been spelt honour if it was an actual London advert.]
--R. Stephenson
(17 April 2004)

UPDATE: Bernadette Hince of Canberra (author of The Antarctic Dictionary) e-mails the following: "I'd like to respond to your challenge to find the real advert. What I have found is not Shackleton, it's WH Tilman in 1961, but it is The Times, assuming of course that Tilman was accurately telling this. Tilman might have been inspired in his choice of wording by a similar advert of Shackleton's, but until the existence of this is proven -- and perhaps it never will be -- it seems reasonable to think that Tilman could be the original source of the laconic advert. One thing in favour of this hypothesis is the dates: I think it is more likely to have survived as folklore from the 1960s than from the 1900s -- especially if there are few citations until the late 20th century alleging its existence.
Tilman wrote in 1961 (in Tilman, HW (1961) Voyage to the Îles Crozet and Îles Kerguelen, Geographical Journal 127(3): 310-16) : p 310) A month before sailing [for the Crozet and Kerguelen] I had two [crew]. To find three more I put an advertisement in The Times: "Hands wanted for long voyage in small boat. No pay, no prospects, not much pleasure." From twenty replies, some of them serious, I got the three more men I needed. None had any experience of sailing small boats but one had crossed the Atlantic fifty-one times in the Queen Mary playing the double bass in the ship's orchestra.
One has to admire his sense of humour."
(24 October 2004)

UPDATE: From an e-mail from Rip Bulkeley (an IGY historian), Exeter College, Oxford:

"No, I haven't found it, but I would like to offer a couple of suggestions. First one is the horse's mouth option. In The Heart of the Antarctic Shackleton says he announced the Nimrod expedition in the Geographical Journal, March 1907. So has anyone looked there yet? Unfortunately we don't have it in Oxford. [see below]

Second option: this doesn't look like a Times ad; it looks like a spoof of a Times ad. And who was the first to put together an Antarctic newspaper, with many humorous contributions? Shackleton of course, on the Discovery expedition. Well, I thought I was really hot with this. After all if you were going to imitate The Times back then, one of the first things you might think of was its famous front page, consisting entirely of small ads. But alas the ad is not in the South Polar Times.

BUT in the SPT Shackleton mentions putting together another typewritten newsheet on that expedition, called The Blizzard. This was different from SPT because it was not illustrated, so that several copies could be made as opposed to the single copy of the more elaborate SPT, illustrated by Wilson. The Blizzard is bound to have contained more ephemeral, light-weight contributions, just the sort of thing we are looking for. And it was being put together by someone who was at the same time running a 'newspaper' named after the London Times, famous for its small ads ...

So, has The Blizzard survived? If so where?"
(9 January 2005)

NOTE: The Blizzard, a ten page 'mimeographed' magazine appeared in only one issue on May 1, 1902.

UPDATE: Rip Bulkeley asked about the March 1907 issue of the Geographical Journal (Pp 329-32), which contains Shackleton's announcement of what would become his Nimrod expedition. I sought the issue out at the Boston Athenaeum and this is what appears:


I am at present organizing a now expedition to the South Polar Regions, My purpose is that this expedition should leave New Zealand at the end January or beginning of February, 1908. The expedition will, unlike that of the Discovery, consist of a small shore party of nine to twelve men, who will winter at the winter quarters of the Discovery. The ship will either be a whaler, specially chartered or purchased, or a full-powered steamer, capable of doing 10 knots, which, will not leave New Zealand until February, when the sea in the South is free of ice. On landing the party, the vessel will return to New Zealand, and the charter will be up until the following year. There will thus be no risk of the ship being frozen in, and there will be no responsibility to those at home.

The funds at present at our disposal admit of the following programme. The shore party of nine or twelve men will winter with sufficient equipment to enable three separate parties to start out in the spring. One party will go east, and, if possible, cross the barrier to the new land known as King Edward the Seventh's Land, follow the coast-line there south, if the coast trends south, or north if north, returning when it is considered necessary to do so. The second party will proceed south over the same route as that of the southern sledge party of the Discovery; this party will keep from 15 to 20 miles from the coast, so as to avoid any rough ice. The third party will possibly proceed westward over the mountains, and, instead of crossing in a line due west, will strike towards the magnetic pole.

The main changes in equipment will be, that Siberian ponies will be taken for the sledge journeys both east and south, and also a specially designed motor-car for the southern journey. A North China or Siberian pony is capable of dragging 1800 lbs. on a food basis of 10 lbs. per day. A dog drags 100 lbs. at the outside, and requires over 2lbs. of food a day. Therefore, one pony drags as much as eighteen dogs at less than one-third in weight of provision, and can travel comfortably 20 to 25 miles a day.

The motor will be of a special type, taking into consideration temperatures to be encountered and the surface to be travelled, over. I would propose to take three or four ponies on the southern journey, and the motor-car. As long as the car continued to remain satisfactory, it alone would be used to drag our equipment and provisions. If it broke down and could not be fixed up, then the ponies would take over the load.

I would propose travelling at the rate of 20 to 25 miles a day, and feel assured that, providing the motor does its work, we could reach with it a point beyond 82° 16' S. I intend, every 100 miles, to drop a sledge-load of provision and equipment, so that, in the event of every means of traction breaking down except by men, we would only have 100 miles to go between each depot on return. The geographical south pole is 731 miles from winter quarters, and allowing that we only go with motor to 82° 16', we would then practically be starting for the remaining 464 miles as fresh as if we were starting from the ship. What lies beyond 83° S. we cannot tell, but I am of opinion that we can follow the trend of the southern mountains for a very long way south, before they turn either east or west. Should they turn to the eastward, and we find it impossible to get over them with the ponies, we would pull the sledges ourselves up the nearest available glacier. If no way up the mountains is found, we would continue following them round to the eastward, until we found it necessary to return towards winter quarters. If, on the other hand, the mountains turned to the west, we would continue straight south, and, if the surface were favorable, would increase the distance between our depots to 150 miles to admit of a more extended journey. On reaching the geographical pole, we should strike at an angle about north-west, and so pick up the mountains to the westward. When it became necessary to return, we would then strike due east, and begin picking up our last depots.

I do not intend to sacrifice the scientific utility of the expedition to a mere record-breaking journey, but say frankly, all the same, that one of my great efforts will be to reach the southern geographical pole. I shall in no way neglect to continue the biological, meteorological, geological, and magnetic work of the Discovery. Should we have sufficient funds, we would land a small party of men at the nearest available point to the south magnetic pole. When the time came for sledging, they would move over the mountains towards the pole, taking careful observations the whole time, and if good fortune attends them and they reach the pole, they would survey the magnetic area as far as possible. During their winter stay in the vicinity of Mount Melbourne, the magnetic instruments would be running, and the meteorological observations would be taken at the same time as they would be taken in our winter quarters, so that a comparison could be made afterwards. If possible, in the winter quarters, where also magnetic observations will be taken, we would have a small launch in use for the remainder of the summer, in which the biologist could do marine dredging in a more continuous way than we were able to do on the Discovery. As regards geology, the wintering party by Mount Melbourne would have a new field to work on, and I would propose that careful observations and collections be made in all departments, the results of which could be worked out by those at home more qualified to do so than the field workers; and if the expedition proves a success, we intend to publish in as complete a manner as possible all the scientific results. By this means I would hope to have an expedition that will not only be successful in the field, but will make a mark in the scientific world on its return.

On the return of the vessel in February, 1909, the first party to be picked up would be that in the far south; the second party, at Mount Melbourne, would be picked up on the return. Should I only have a full-powered steamer of steel, it would not be possible for me to risk the approach to Mount Melbourne; but I hope through friends who are interested in this work to increase the scope of the expedition. Then, having a whaling vessel—which even now I may get—I propose, after picking up the party at Mount Melbourne, to proceed north of the Balleny islands, come down south again at the longitude where the Discovery turned north, and keep in as far south as possible to trace the north-western coast of Wilkes' Land, going as far west as possible before it is necessary to turn north. If we could settle the exact coastline of Wilkes' Land, it would be a great help to geography. By the southern and eastern sledge journey we may possibly solve the problem of the great ice-barrier; by the journey along Wilkes' Land we lay down a definite coast-line; by the charting of new mountains and discovery of new lands in the far south we aid geographical science; by the magnetic work we help not only the academic side of magnetic science, but we may help the mercantile community in the way of better variation charts.

As regards personnel this is not yet settled, but I hope that some of those with whom I was associated before will come again, so that their training and experience of from [sic] 1901-4 will be available. I would like to add that, if possible, during the winter, we should try and watch the breeding and nesting of the emperor penguins.

As regards equipment, which I have worked out, I can say but little now, and this is not the place for it; but such things as a cinematograph for showing the movements of the penguins, and a phonograph for recording their cries, will be amongst the things taken to give our countrymen at home a better knowledge of the natural history of the place.

UPDATE: From an e-mail from Pam Mynott:
The National Geographic website : http://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/0405/expert.html quotes Bob Headland of the Scott Polar Institute as follows "This is a needle-in-a-haystack situation," says Bob Headland, curator of the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, who's holding a bottle of Madeira as a reward for whoever hunts down a copy of the British paper carrying the ad. "But I'm fairly convinced this haystack doesn't have a needle in it." Headland believes it first appeared in the 1949 pulp paperback The 100 Greatest Advertisements [The 100 Greatest Advertisements 1852-1958; Who Wrote Them and What They Did] and that the apocryphal blurb was penned by the book's author, Julian Lewis Watkins.
UPDATE: From an e-mail from Ed Sanders:
Here is an update on Rip Bulkeley's question about whether the advert may have appeared in "The Blizzard". I got a photocopy of The Blizzard from the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand (very helpful people). No, it's not in there so your $100 is safe for the time being!

I see plenty of references on your website to the book by Julian Lewis Watkins, The 100 Greatest Advertisements. In it, the Shackleton advert comes in at number one no less! Interestingly, many of the other adverts appear to have been cut out of magazines and re-printed in the book - not so with Shackleton's advert. In other words it was not cut out of a newspaper and reproduced in the book.

There are three other things wrong with it. First the word 'honor' is in the American spelling, a mistake which Shackleton would never have made; second, there are no contact instructions (how would anyone reply to it?); and third, Watkins says that the advert appeared in 1900 (a bit early to recruit for the 1914 expedition). Does anyone know any more about Watkins that can shed light on this?

I suspect that the reported ca. 5,000 applicants were unsolicited letters of application from people who saw his letter to The Times in December 1913 announcing the expedition. I am particularly interested in how he coped with so many applications - how did he shortlist people for interview for instance? I must admit to a professional interest here as I work in HR. Does anybody know?
(18 July 2005)

UPDATE: From an e-mail from Martin Martens:
I think your $100 contest did a good job of settling the mystery about the 'Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey' ad. It seems pretty clear to me now that the ad originated in Julian Watkins' head, or someone wrote it for him. I have an extensive collection of UK newspaper articles about Shackleton and Antarctic exploration. I've gone through the major UK newspapers from 1900 into the 1920s and I would be shocked if someone comes up with the ad. It seems clear that Shackleton's Dec 29, 1913 letter effectively served as his "ad" for grabbing the interest of the public and potential applicants.

As a way of addressing Ed Sander's question about Watkins, I contacted the company that published Julian Watkins' book and spoke with the editor that handled Watkins work. Julian Watkins died several years ago and the editor was unaware of any surviving notes on the book 100 Greatest Ads. It would be interesting to find and search the past issues of the journal "Advertising and Selling" but none of the libraries here in Montreal have it. Perhaps I can find a motivated Marketing graduate student some time in the future who can track it down.

The Mill's biography provides an entertaining story about Ed Sander's other question about how Shackleton selected the men out of the 5000 applicants. On page 195, Mill writes "The first public announcement was made in a letter to The Times on 29th December 1913, when it was stated that the generosity of a friend had made the expedition possible. The immediate result was the offer of their services on the expedition of nearly five thousand people, from whom only fifty could be taken. Soon afterwards a curious friend noted in his office three large drawers labelled respectively 'Mad,' 'Hopeless,' and 'Possible' in which the letters of application had been roughly classified."
(25 October 2005)

UPDATE: From a recent e-mail from Jeff Rubin:
The Oberlin College library recently subscribed to a database produced by Thomson Gale group called "The Times Digital Archive, 1785-1985." It contains 7,683,312 articles, and among many other criteria, you can limit your search by date, keyword, and section, including Classified Advertising and Display Advertising.

Needless to say, my exhaustive searches on all the various combinations of the infamous Shackleton "advert" have failed to find anything, using both the limitation of Advertising and also searching on the fulltext of the paper. Otherwise I would have been on the 'phone to you immediatement to claim my C-note.

Interestingly, I didn't find Tilman's alleged advert, either. When I searched on the phrase, "Hands wanted for long voyage" ALL that came up was an article by Tilman titled "A Cutter In The Antarctic: The Mischief Visits The Crozet Islands And Kerguelen" (Apr 20, 1960; pg. 14) in which he says he "put an advertisement in The Times: 'Hands wanted for long voyage in small boat. No pay, no prospects, not much pleasure.'" But no advert comes up when I search on that phrase, so either the text of all the Classifieds are NOT actually in the database (despite the appearance of a full page of adverts on any date you choose to look up, or else neither Shack nor Tilman actually placed any advert.

My guess is that Tilman made up the story about his ad, Julian Lewis Watkins saw Tilman's reference to his (nonexistent) ad, and Watkins embellished it into the fake Shack ad.

Also: Shack loved poetry, and he knew the Antarctic, so he's unlikely to have written "long hours of complete darkness" since that occurs everywhere in the world. He would have written something more like "weeks of darkness." Also, he would not have written "Honour [or honor] and recognition in event of success" since honor and recognition are somewhat redundant.
(26 December 2005)

UPDATE: From a recent e-mail from Richard D. Adams:
While I have no knowledge of the literacy rate amongst experienced sailors in England in the early 20th century, I speculate that it was not high enough to justify a newspaper ad. I also speculate that, unless Shackelton actually wrote it himself, 5000 responses is either hyperbole or a misprint with an added zero. Consider how many letters a day one person could read.

What may be more likely is that Shackelton had the ad printed as a notice and mailed it to what today we call Seafarers halls throughout the British Isles. It would be interesting to know the prior experience of his crew because if they all, except the stowaway, had prior sailing experience, it would add a speck of credibility to my conjectures.
(26 December 2006)
UPDATE: From a recent e-mail from Craig A. Meyer:
No, I did not find the famous Shackleton ad, but I did recently read something that may redirect our efforts. I read that R.F. Scott may have placed the ad [in]1901. Based on some of the comments that have been placed on the "ad" section of your site, this may make some sense. I ran across it and have forgotten where it is.
. . .
Don't know if this helps much, but I thought I would send it on since I was thinking about it.
(30 October 2007)
UPDATE: From a recent very interesting e-mail from Phillip Lane:
Apocryphal it may be, but the advertising agency for whom I work has always maintained that it was us that placed the fabled ad on Shackleton's behalf.

(Interview with John Tarrant, CEO just last week - "Barkers has been going since 1812. It's got a fascinating history involving everyone from the Duke of Wellington and the Rothschild dynasty to Fay Weldon. Shackleton used us to recruit for his Antarctic expedition." - http://www.ri6.co.uk/ri5/news_index.html)

The company, Barkers Advertising, was founded in 1812 in collaboration with The Times of London in order to collate and disperse both regional news and classified advertisements - our main business nearly 200 years later is still recruitment ads.

Amongst the stories told is our involvement with Rothschild in reporting the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo (a full day ahead of others in London, allowing him to make a killing on the fledgling Stock Exchange) and the handling of advertisements for Sir Gregor MacGregor in what was the most audacious fraud of all time, the non-existent land of Poyais http://www.amazon.co.uk/Land-That-Never-Was-MacGregor/dp/0306814110/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1196533739&sr=8-1

Both of these are verified in an as yet unpublished book by the now deceased James Derriman, A History of Charles Barker, written in the late 1980s.

However, Derriman does not refer to Shackleton at all in the 270 or so pages of the history and it is unclear where the Barkers association with the ad is meant to have come from. However, we do have some archives and clippings lying around including recruitment ads from The Times dating back to the first half of the nineteenth century at least. I'll see if I can get access to those or at least find out where the idea of Barkers being involved came from.
(1 December 2007)
UPDATE: From a recent e-mail from Imran Ghory:
"Regarding the Shackleton quote, I can't help with where the original source is, but I can prove that it wasn't a fabrication by Watkins as the advert is quoted in full in the 1944 book 'Quit you like men' by Carl Hopkins Elmore, five years prior to Watkins book on advertising."

With this information in hand I sought out the book: No copy at the Boston Public Library, Dartmouth College or anyother New Hampshire library. AbeBooks showed a copy for sale by the Friends of the Pima County Library priced at $29.95. When I found myself in Tucson last week I went to the Friends warehouse and was provided the book. I just wanted to see the exact quote but was so well received by one Nancy Kelleher that I went ahead and bought it. (I might deduct its cost from the $100 reward, should it ever be claimed.) Here's what I found:

Quit You like Men, Carl Hopkins Elmore (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1944). On page 53 this appears:
"Sir Ernest Shackleton when he was about to set out on one of his expeditions, printed a statement in the papers, to this effect: 'Men wanted for hazardous journey to the South Pole. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.' In speaking of it afterward he said that so overwhelming was the response to his appeal that it seemed as though all the men of Great Britain were determined to accompany him."
(29 March 2011)
UPDATE: From a recent e-mail from Kevin Chamberlain:
"I've been reading with great interest the sleuthing that is going on regarding Shackleton's 'advert' in the Times. Unfortunately I am in no position to shed any light on the subject, but I do have one question:

So far a search for the advert has been fruitless, but has anyone considered searching for the advert immediately above the 'MEN WANTED' advert? [See top of this page.] Perhaps a search for any references to "M. L. Barker, 1408 Chapman Bldg" in newspaper records might yield some king of result?"

I responded to Kevin saying that I thought that John Hyatt, an artist, had probably made that partial advert up, but who knows?

On another matter, I finally tracked down a copy of Julian Lewis Watkins's book The 100 Greatest Advertisements 1852-1958 Who Wrote Them and What They Did. What I saw was a reprint (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1993). The preface of the first edition is dated October 1949 (the first edition was published by The Moore Publishing Company). The very first of the 100 he included is the Shackleton advertisement. This is what it looks like:

It's clear that the image is not the advertisement itself, merely a suggestions as to how it might have looked. The 99 others adverts are reproductions of the actual ones that appeared. If the Shackleton advert actually existed, why wouldn't it have been used in the book?

—R. Stephenson (16 April 2011)
UPDATE: From a recent e-mail from John Hyatt:
In response to the latest posting on your website about the Shackleton Ad (16 April 2011). My artwork is a total fabrication, with the intent of any illustrator, competent at his craft, to effect the appearance of absolute reality—torn newsprint edges, sepia toned paper, irregular hand set type, etc.

As for Kevin Chamberlain's suggestion about searching the "above" ad—the reference for my illustration was taken from the want ads of an early 20th century Los Angeles Times newspaper, replete with a display typeface of the day, broken and irregular typesetting and margin bars, and snippets surrounding the Shackleton ad—top, bottom and sides—from other typical "men wanted" ads. As for the "above" address (1408 Chapman Bldg.), that building, erected in 1912, still stands at Broadway and 8th in Los Angeles. It was recently renovated into residential loft apartments.

Had I gotten the word "honour" correct, perhaps my illustration might have fooled the more knowledgeable and discerning eyes. With 45 years of experience in the field of advertising, my own guess as to the debate about Julian Watkin's sensational ad is that reality is often overlooked to sell merchandise—in this case a book.

(22 August 2011)
UPDATE: From a recent e-mail from Pete Leavers:
I was sorting through some old papers and came upon an article that was typed up by a friend of mine. I do not know where he got it from. The reason I am sending it is because of the author's link to the Shackleton family. It may be a line of enquiry.

The article said: In late 1913, some years before I was around, a member of my family put an advertisement in the Times which went like this:

"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success."

The advertiser was my uncle, Ernest Shackleton, the Antarctic explorer, seeking to recruit men for his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.

She goes on to say—surprise, surprise no fewer than 5000 people replied.

She signed the article
Mrs Patricia Ducé
Channel 4
January 25th 1988

(21 November 2011)
UPDATE: I recently received an e-mail from Andy Green, whose involved with public relations in the UK. He's done a piece on the Shackleton Ad for the blog of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. (It's now on his own site: www.andygreencreativity.com)

(3 May 2012; revised 8 September 2013 thanks to Carlos Garcia Braschi)

UPDATE: Bob Headland has added to the $100 award, a full case of Madeira!

(13 November 2016)