MOSS, Edward.

Shores of the Polar sea


Shores of the Polar sea
a narrative of the Arctic expedition of 1875–6.
London, M. Ward, 1878.

In stock

Shores of the Polar sea


A ‘sumptuous volume’ (Books on Ice), illustrating Nares’s British Arctic Expedition 1875–6. Moss was naval surgeon aboard Nares’s flagship Alert ‘but also served as artist for the expedition’. Moss places the emphasis on his pictorial efforts – which offer some of the classic images of the heroic era of polar exploration.

The sketches are not designed to illustrate the progress of the expedition, or any stirring events in its history, so much as the appearance of the strange and desolate country by the shores of which the ships slowly steamed, the wonderful phenomena of the sky, and the effects of light and shade produced by a midnight sun, or a midday moon, on the ice-bound rocks which form the scenery of the region.

Encouraged by the reports of the American expeditions of Isaac Israel Hayes and C. F. Hall, which had ‘revived the belief in an open polar sea and suggested that land extended far to the north, west of Robeson Channel’ (ODNB), the Nares expedition was intended to reach the pole via Smith Sound. A sledge party under Commander Markham of the Alert did reach “83°20′ N, a heroic achievement considering that the pack ice was extremely rough, and also drifting south almost as fast as they were travelling northwards.” But both ships were severely affected by scurvy and Nares made the courageous decision to return home.


First edition. Folio (49 x 35.5 cm), vi, 83 pp., Title page in red and black, coloured map frontispiece, 16 mounted chromolithographs mounted on card as issued, 28 vignettes in text. Original publisher’s blue cloth, elaborately blocked in black and gilt on the spine and upper board, panels in blind to the lower board, all edges gilt, a fine example.


Books on ice IV.7; Howgego, IV, N6.


Stock ID: 94818