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Aurora Australis / Albion and Type Cases

Ernest Shackleton's first exploration of the Antarctic continent in 1908 & 1909 had, among the stores and tools for survival, a small printing plant. As a diversion from the extreme winter spent at Cape Royds on Ross Island in McMurdo Sound, Shackleton chose four members of the expedition to be trained (as much as can be in three short weeks) in letterpress printing, lithography, etching and bookbinding. To this end a book was produced titled Aurora Australis, in an edition of perhaps 100 copies, although only 78 have been located. Fighting extreme cold which caused the ink to freeze, cramped quarters and interminably long days, the hardy team produced the first book printed on the continent. The book was printed on handmade papers papers from Abbey Mills, Greenfield, and bound in wooden boards made from packing cases held together with strips of leather and glue. Packages of paper remain on the shelves of the shared hut today almost 104 years later. When complaining of printing conditions today, we should all put ourselves in their shoes and suffer silently.

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Taken on May 10, 2012