Stamps commemorating the centenary of the death of Sir Ernest Shackleton at South Georgia during the 1921-22 Quest expedition. The Quest called at Tristan during its return voyage.

Centenary of The Death of Sir Ernest Shackleton

Issue date: 25th May 2022

Centenary of The Death of Sir Ernest Shackleton, 35p, 'Quest' in the Thames Centenary of The Death of Sir Ernest Shackleton, 70p, Casting off - showing Ernest Shackleton
Centenary of The Death of Sir Ernest Shackleton, £1.60, Shackleton's coffin, Montevideo Centenary of The Death of Sir Ernest Shackleton, £2.00p, Shackleton's cairn, Grytviken
202209 Mint Stamps (35p, 70p, £1.60, £2.00) £4.65
202210 First Day Cover (with 35p, 70p, £1.60, £2.00 stamps) £5.85

Centenary of The Death of Sir Ernest Shackleton: First day cover

The great polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) rose to fame in 1915 when his vessel, the Endurance, became trapped in pack ice and sank. Against all the odds, Shackleton succeeded in getting all his men back to safety, a tale of resolve and selfless leadership that is celebrated as one of the greatest stories of human endeavour from an era that has come to be known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. Fittingly the Shackleton family's motto reads 'Fortitudine vincimus'. By endurance we conquer.

Shackleton's first journey south was in 1901, on the Antarctic expedition ship Discovery. Led by British naval officer Robert Falcon Scott, Shackleton and Edward Wilson trekked towards the pursuit for the South Pole in extremely difficult conditions. They got closer to the Pole than anyone previously.

In 1908, Shackleton returned to the Antarctic as the leader of his own expedition, on the ship Nimrod. They made many important scientific and geographical discoveries and set a new record by getting even closer to the South Pole. He was knighted on his return to Britain. The race for the South Pole ended in 1911 with Amundsen's conquest and in 1914 Shackleton made his third, now well-known expedition, with the ship Endurance.

In 1921, Shackleton returned to the sub-Antarctic on the Shackleton-Rowett Antarctic Expedition, John Quiller Rowett was a friend of Shackleton's (they had known each other since their school days at Dulwich College) and the expedition's sole financier.

More commonly known as the Quest expedition, this was to be Shackleton's fourth and final expedition. Large crowds gathered as the ship, Quest, left St Katherine Docks in London on 17 September 1921.

After arriving at the quiet waters of King Edward Cove in South Georgia, Shackleton unexpectedly died in the early hours of the morning on the 5 January 1922. His final diary entry reads: 'A wonderful evening. In the darkening twilight I saw a lone star hover, gem-like above the bay.'

The Quest ship doctor, Alexander Macklin recorded in his diary, 'I think this is as the boss would have had it himself, standing lonely on an island far from civilization, surrounded by a stormy tempestuous sea, and in the vicinity of one of his greatest exploits.'

Shackleton's body was taken ashore for embalming for its return to England and, accompanied by Leonard Hussey, was placed aboard a steamer bound for Montevideo where a message awaited from Emily Shackleton requesting that the body be returned to South Georgia for burial. Shackleton was buried on 5 March at the whaling station, Grytviken, a ceremony attended by the managers of the five stations on South Georgia and a hundred whalers and seamen. By then Quest had left South Georgia and so, of his former comrades, only Hussey was present at his internment.

The Quest expedition continued under the leadership of Frank Wild, but generally its achievements were overshadowed by Shackleton's untimely death. They returned to South Georgia 6 April, where the crew erected a memorial cairn to their former leader, on a headland overlooking the entrance to Grytviken harbour. After a month at South Georgia, the Quest sailed for Cape Town for a refit as Frank Wild was hoping for a second season in the ice. The first port of call was Tristan, but sadly without "The Boss". Among the final letters written by Shackleton is one dated "19th Nov. 1921/off the Coast of Brazil" and written on Quest RYS (Royal Yacht Squadron) headed paper. Shackleton was advising a Mr George Tripcorny in London that he would deliver the latter's letter to islander Harry Swain on Tristan da Cunha as "I expect to see all the islanders when we arrive at Tristan".

Description of the Stamps

35p, 'Quest' in the Thames
70p, Casting off - showing Ernest Shackleton
£1.60, Shackleton's coffin, Montevideo
£2.00p, Shackleton's cairn, Grytviken
First Day Cover, Sir Ernest Shackleton and John Quiller Rowett

Technical Specifications from Pobjoy Mint Ltd.

Photographs Jan Chojecki - "Rowett-Chojecki Family Collection"
except £1.60: Scott Polar Research Institute
Designer:Bee Design Stamp size:38 x 30.6mm
Printer:Cartor Security Printing Perforation:13¼ x 13 per 2cms
Process:Stochastic Lithography Layout:10
Production Co-ordination:Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd