Launched: 19 April 2003. Last updated: 9 November 2020.

Queries, requests for information, etc., that we have posted for readers.


Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror…1839 to 1843 Michael Rosove
Psychological and Social Variables amongst former Winter-Overs Cyril Jaksic
Forsters' Characteres Generum Plantarum Michael Rosove
Scott's Camera—Where was it found?…How was it found?…Who found it?…How did it get home? Joe O'Farrell
A Shackleton mystery Peter Jaggard
A Query and a Puzzle Rip Bulkeley
Francis Howard Bickerton, Mawson's AAE Stephen Haddelsey
Captain Scott / J.M. Barrie—Who's Polly? Chris Albury
J. Gordon Hayes Pamela Stevenson

Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror…1839 to 1843

Michael Rosove informs me he is doing bibliographical research on the 24 original parts of the Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Erebus and Terror…1839 to 1843, a difficult task because with the exception of the mollusks, crustaceans, and insects from the late Janson publishing period of 1874-75, all the reports in original parts are exceptionally rare, particularly all 18 reports from the early Longman publishing period of 1844-48. Michael has carried the work quite a distance already, but it's not "there" yet and needs help from anyone who might have original parts, or even just retained original wrappers in bound parts. If you can help him, please email Michael at He'll appreciate it.
(9 November 2020)

Psychological and Social Variables amongst former Winter-Overs.

Cyril Jaksic is a PhD student at Lincoln University in New Zealand. He plans to study psychological and social variables amongst former 'winter-overs'. He has created an on-line questionnaire that should take about 20 minutes to complete. His "study aims to investigate the psychological factors related to adjustment to Antarctic stations. Specifically, we are interested in predicting one's social fitness to the station, job satisfaction, job performance, mood, sleep quality and cognitive performance."
To learn more and find the link to the questionnaire, go to:

(20 September 2016)

Forsters' Characteres Generum Plantarum

Michael Rosove e-mails the following:

"I am conducting a worldwide census of extant copies of the 45 cm folio issue of the Forsters' Characteres Generum Plantarum, the major botanical work emanating from Cook's second voyage of 1772-1775. Bibliographers almost half a century ago stated there existed 2 copies of the 1775 issue and 8 copies of the 1776 issue, with little detail. Thus far 1 copy of the 1775 issue has been identified at the British Library, and 4 copies of the 1776 issue have been identified, one each at the British Library, UCLA, Bibliotheque Nationale, and from the Franklin Brooke-Hitching collection. If you have any leads, please contact me at"
(13 April 2014)

Scott's Camera—Where was it found?…How was it found?…Who found it?…How did it get home?

Joe O'Farrell e-mails to pose these questions:

The camera which Capt Scott took with him on his Terra Nova 1910-1913 Expedition was a Staley camera, manufactured by A E Staley & Co, London. It carried the marking "D.R.G.M. No: 371939". This was the camera which, according to the historians, took that iconic photo at the South Pole on Jan 18th 1912. This camera was retrieved, and is now exhibited as "the old Staley camera that captured the despair of Scott's arrival at the South Pole."

My query is this: how, when, and by whom was Scott's camera retrieved?

My curiosity arises from the fact that, in his diary entry for Friday March 16th or Saturday 17th (sic) (1912), Scott writes "…We are at No 14 pony camp, only two pony marches from One Ton Depot. We leave here our theodolite, a camera [my italics], and Oates' sleeping-bags."

(15 April 2010)

Joe can be reached at

The camera in question on display at the Athy Heritage Centre during one of the Shackleton Autumn Schools.

A Shackleton mystery

Peter Jaggard e-mails the following:

I am e-mailing to "…contact you about a mystery surrounding a so far unaccounted for portrait of Ernest Shackeleton.
The great granddaughter of the artist Charles Buchel (1872-1950) possesses a cache of letters sent to the artist. Buchel was very much a "jobbing" artist, his work encompassing theatre posters and stage design (he worked closely with J.M. Barrie and Herbert Beerbohm Tree) and portraits—examples of his work are in the National Portrait Gallery, the V and A, the Garrick Club, etc. Most of the surviving letters are fromwriters, actors and actresses, so it was interesting to discover threehand written letters from Ernest Shackleton. These seem to relate to portrait of Shackleton painted 1919-1920. The last letter, from June 1920 suggests the portrait had been finished by then, as Shackleton writes that he will collect the work in the near future. What we find puzzling is that we have found no references to this picture outside of these letters. Would you have any ideas on what became of it? Also curious is the fact that that Shackleton asks about the cost after the portrait was completed—but perhaps that was the way Shackleton worked!"

Transcripts of the three letters are below.
Marlborough Club
Pall Mall
Nov. 25 : 1919

Dear Mr. Buchel,
Tomorrow, Wednesday, 11.30 to 12.30 if suitable to you.
I am very sorry that rush of work absolutely prevented any earlier appointment. If the above hour is not convenient, I could arrange to be with you from 2.30 to 3.30.
Please reply to the Marlborough Club.
Yours Sincerely
E H Shackleton

C. Buchel Esq.
62 Acacia Road


Marlborough Club
Pall Mall
Dec. 21 : 1919

Dear Mr Buchel,
I'm so sorry rush of work has prevented me from going up to you. Will you tell me your new address and I'll come for a final sitting directly after Xmas.
With the Seasons Compliments,
Believe me
Yours sincerely
E H Shackleton

Chas Buchel Esq
62 Acacia Road
St. John's Wood


Marlborough Club
Pall Mall
June 22nd 1920

Dear Mr. Buchel,
I must apologise for not answering yours of June 2nd but I have been away.
I will call one morning myself for the portrait in the near future.
Would you please let me know what the cost of it is.
With kind regards
Yours sincerely
E H Shackleton

Charles Buchel Esq.
A second e-mail poses a question:
"This is a real mystery. If, as it seems, Shackleton himself was behind the commission, then what happened to the portrait? If it wasn't collected I'm sure Buchel wouldn't have painted over it, given the celebrity of the sitter. I notice that Shackleton asks Buchel to contact him via the club (and not, presumably, his home address) so could it be possible that the portrait was intended as a surprise giftfor someone?"
And this is his posting on the James Caird Society website:
"Portrait of Shackleton by Charles Buchel (posted by Peter Jaggard, 8 Jan 2010, 16:35)

The great grand daughter of the artist Charles Buchel (1872-1950) is in possession of three letters written to the artist by Sir Ernest Shackleton.
These relate to arranging sittings by Shackleton for a portrait and to the subsequent collection by Shackleton of the portrait.
All are sent from the Marlborough Club, the first on November 25th 1919, the second on December 21st 1919 and the last on June 22nd 1920.
Has anyone come across the Buchel portrait of Shackleton? It would be most interesting to know what became of it."
Contact Mr Jaggard if you can shed light on this matter:

(1 February 2010)

A Query and a Puzzle

Rip Bulkeley e-mails the following:

"The first child born in Antarctica is usually said to have been an Argentine boy, Emilio Marcos Palma, in 1978. But there has always been a question mark over this, because of rumours about a pregnant crew member on the Soviet Union's whaling flotilla, which operated in Antarctic waters for many seasons from January 1947 onwards. So my first question is, does anyone know any more about the rumoured Soviet candidate for this distinction?

And secondly, since Emilio Palma was pretty certainly the first person born on land in Antarctica anyway, (a) who were his parents and (b) what is interesting about his younger brother Juan Luciano Palma, now about eight years old?

I don't know the answer to the first question. Nor did Bob Headland when I discussed it with him at the Scott Polar a dozen years ago. On the second question, I have put the answers--which very few English-speakers know--into a message ready to send you, but perhaps you would like to run the quiz without knowing them yourself?"

(9 January 2005)

Francis Howard Bickerton, Mawson's AAE

A second query from Stephen Haddelsey, biographer of Frank Bickerton (AAE, 1911-14):

"I would very much like to hear from anyone with information regarding Frank Wild and James McIlroy's cotton-planting experiment in Nyasaland (modern Malawi) between 1920-21. It is believed that Bickerton was also in Nyasaland at this time and any corroborating information would be gratefully received. Email:" Many thanks for your help." Stephen Haddelsey

Francis Howard Bickerton, Mawson's AAE

A query from Stephen Haddelsey:

"I am currently researching a biography of my relative, Francis Howard Bickerton, who accompanied the AAE (1911-14), as engineer in charge of the air-tractor sledge.

Originally employed to maintain the Vickers REP monoplane, he was later responsible for its conversion to a motor-sledge. This became necessary after Lieut. Hugh Watkins crashed the plane in Adelaide. Bickerton led the Western Sledging Party (Dec.'12 to Jan.'13) and the sledge was used during the earlier portion of this journey.

Not only was he directly associated with this first attempt at taking an aeroplane to the Antarctic but he was also heavily involved in the first attempt to use wireless equipment in the Antarctic and, with Leslie Whetter and A.J. Hodegman, the first to discover a meteorite in the Antarctic.

My biography of Bickerton will cover his entire life, which included WWI and WWII aviation, treasure hunting in the South Pacific, farming in Newfoundland, the founding of one of California's most famous golf clubs, involvement in the British film industry and some years in East Africa. Incidentally, he was also recruited by Shackleton for the 'Endurance' expedition but, after assisting with the selection of wingless aeroplanes etc, he elected to fight on the Western Front.

While I am fortunate in having unique access to family papers, photographs etc, I should very much welcome the input of any of your readers / contacts who can shed any additional light on his career or on the relations between Bickerton and other members of the AAE."

Stephen Haddelsey

Captain Scott / J.M. Barrie—Who's Polly?

A query from Chris Albury of Dominic Winter Book Auctions:

"I am wondering if anyone can help with some research about a 'Polly' known to both J.M. Barrie and Captain Scott. I have a copy of The Voyages of Captain Scott, by Charles Turley, with an Introduction by Sir J.M. Barrie, 1st edition, 1914. On the front endpaper Barrie has inscribed in blue ink: 'To Polly / You were his great love / JMB / Dec 1932'. What I'm trying to find out is who Polly was and if Barrie is referring to an affair between Scott and Polly. It would seem that Barrie was a close confidante of Scott's private life and knew of his affair with the actress Pauline Chase, Barrie's favourite Peter Pan. Polly is usually a dimunitive of the name Mary, though it could possibly refer to a Miriam, a Martha or even Apollonia. Any bright suggestions will be gratefully received and acknowledged. The book itself will be sold in our book auction on Wednesday 25 June [2003] for which the catalogue is available free online from about ten days prior to the sale."

Chris Albury
Cataloguer and Valuer
Dominic Winter Book Auctions
The Old School, Maxwell Street, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN1 5DR, UK
Tel +44 (0)1793 611340 Fax +44 (0)1793 491727

J. Gordon Hayes

Pamela Stevenson e-mails and asks about J. Gordon Hayes:

"I would appreciate any information relating to Rev.J.Gordon Hayes. I have endeavoured to find out as much as possible about this author but apart from his being born in 1877, being at Cambridge University in 1906 and being ordained Vicar of Storridge in Malvern in 1923 plus taking six years to write Antarctica - A Treatise on the Southern Continent published in 1928 and 1932 when he published Conquest of the South Pole and in 1934 Conquest of the North Pole. He died in a nursing home in 1936. I found his first book Antarctica to be quite hostile--especially towards Scott and I wonder why. Where was Hayes born? He was 9 years younger than Scott; why was he so against him, when--at that time Scott was such a hero? Did Hayes ever travel to the Antarctic? I found it odd that such a 'christian' man could write such a critical book as 'Antarctica' and then do a complete turn around with Conquest of the South Pole. Thank you for any information."

Pamela Stevenson