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2008 Ross Dependency - British Antarctic Expedition 1907 - 1909

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For more than a century, the name ‘Shackleton’ has been inextricably linked with the great Antarctic explorer who not once, but twice, took part in expeditions to claim the South Geographic Pole.

Issue information

 In 2008, we remembered his brave second expedition which, although unsuccessful in reaching its ultimate goal, nevertheless resulted in a number of significant achievements.

On New Year’s Day 1908, Ernest Shackleton and his team left the South Island port of Lyttelton on board the Nimrod. As the ‘British Antarctic Expedition’, they were fulfilling a dream that had consumed Shackleton since he’d been invalided home with scurvy during Robert Scott’s 1901 National Antarctic Expedition.

A Battle Against the Odds

The British Antarctic Expedition may have failed to reach the South Pole, but it was nevertheless judged a success - an achievement that earned Shackleton a knighthood on his return to England.

The first day cover and presentation pack conveyed the enormity of their undertaking, a journey of courage, hardship and indomitable spirit. The first day cover included all five stamps; while the presentation pack inlcuded the first day cover as well as more insights into this amazing journey.

Ross Dependency Postage in New Zealand

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Product Listing for 2008 Ross Dependency - British Antarctic Expedition 1907 - 1909

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Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 50c 'Departure of Nimrod from Lyttelton' gummed stamp.

Thousands of people turned out to farewell the Nimrod – a 40-year-old, 200-ton, Norwegian-built converted sealer. Packed to capacity with 255 tons of coal, equipment and food, she was towed south by the steel-built steamer Koonya – a journey of 2,410 kilometres that finished on 15 January with the sighting of the first icebergs.

Single Stamp

Single $1.00 'Expedition Hut, Cape Royds' gummed stamp.

Shackleton based the Expedition at Cape Royds, a site named by Captain Scott’s Discovery expedition after its meteorologist, Lieutenant Charles Royds RN. The pre-fabricated hut was assembled within 10 days, although it took a further three weeks to insulate it from the cold. It was to be the team’s refuge, base and centre of their lives for some 14 months, providing shelter, light and warmth through the blizzards and extreme cold of an Antarctic winter.

Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'First vehicle on the continent' gummed stamp.

The Expedition was the first to test a motorcar in Antarctica: an air-cooled, four-cylinder, 11kW (15-horsepower) New Arrol-Johnston. Not surprisingly, on its first outing the wheels soon became clogged with snow, but modifications by mechanic Bernard Day enabled it to transport loads across the frozen sea ice for up to 22 kilometres and back again.

Single Stamp

Single $2.00 'First to reach the South Magnetic Pole' gummed stamp.

While Shackleton and three others tried to reach the South Pole, Professor Edgeworth David (director of the scientific staff), Douglas Mawson (physicist) and Alistair Mackay (assistant surgeon) headed for the South Magnetic Pole – the point on the Earth where a compass needle able to move vertically and horizontally points straight up. After a gruelling four-month, 1,600-kilometre journey, they reached their destination on 16 January 1909.

Single Stamp

Single $2.50 'First ascent of Mount Erebus' gummed stamp.

Although Shackleton was unsuccessful in reaching the Pole, the Expedition included a number of successes – including the first ascent of Mount Erebus. The 3,794-metre mountain (the world’s southernmost active volcano) had been discovered in 1841 by James Clark Ross and named after his ship the Erebus. Professor Edgeworth David led six men on the five-day 1908 climb, returning to Cape Royds in just one and a half days.

First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $8.00
Presentation Pack Presentation pack containing a selection of stamp products from the issue and further information on the theme of the stamps. $19.90

Technical information

Date of issue: 5 November 2008
Number of stamps: Five gummed stamps
Denominations: 50c, $1.00, $1.50, $2.00, $2.50
Stamps and first day cover designed by: Cue Design, Wellington, New Zealand
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print Ltd by offset lithography
Number of colours:  6 (4 PMS colours plus black and overgloss)
Stamp size and format: 40mm x 30mm (horizontal)
Paper type: Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper
Number of stamps per sheet: 25
Perforation gauge: 13.33 x 13.6
Special blocks: Plate/imprint blocks could be obtained by purchasing at least six stamps from a sheet. Barcode blocks were available in both A and B formats.
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 4 November 2009.