A Postal History Gallery of Related Events


Douglas Mawson

Australasian Antarctic Expedition


The expedition operated at the same time the Scott party was at Victoria Land. They landed on Queen Mary Land and Adelie Land. They also put a party ashore on Macquarie Island. The main party conducted an oceanographic study south of Tasmania. All parties were evacuated during 1913-14.

An authorized postmark was provided however, since postage stamps were not provided to the mail office on the ship, all mail was franked by Tasmanian stamps.

This cover was stamped and canceled by the agent for the Scott expedition and reused by Mawson. Captain John King Davis authenticated each cover by his signature and a small handstamp.


"Loose Ship's Letter" (Macquarie Island variety) cachet from the first Mawson Antarctic Expedition. The letter was left by Mawson's ship, S.Y. AURORA, while at Macquarie Island. Subsequently, the visiting TOROA took the mail from Macquarie Island and returned it to Hobart, Tasmania, where the letter was posted on 21 December 1911.

(Courtesy of Herb & Janice Harvis)


Official Expedition Stationery

and . . .

. . . A Beautiful Souvenir Cover

Signed by Captain Davis, Master of the AURORA. This cover had previously been canceled in Antarctica with the postmark of the B.A.E., showing a full strike of the 1d. Victoria Land on 9 FE 11. The Aurora visited Lyttelton in 1912 and in August, J.J. Kinsey gave Captain Davis some covers to have postmarked on the second voyage of the AURORA. Kinsey wrote to Davis, ". . . enclosed are some prints as promised and also half a dozen letters bearing the Victoria Land stamp and posted at Cape Evans in 1911, and also the obliterating stamp which you were good enough to see after on your last trip to the Antarctic. . . ." The AURORA departed Hobart, Tasmania on December 26, 1912 and arrived at Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica, on January 13, 1913. While there, Captain Davis canceled a striking pair of the very rare ½ d Victoria Land overprints, adding his official "leader" cachet, which he signed as Master. (The postage rate to some countries was 2½ d so a small number of ½ d. stamps were overprinted to cover this rate for mail posted by the Expedition members. Only 10 sheets were overprinted: a total of 2400 stamps. The UPU received 400, the Official Collection 60 and the Chief Postmaster in Christchurch 1940.)


Wilhelm Filchner

Second German Antarctic Expedition

Mail from the Second German Antarctic Expedition, under the command of Wilhelm Filchner, posted by Alfred Kling (who would become ship captain upon death of Captain Vahsel) at South Georgia, 10 December 1911, using expedition straight-line cachets to strike the expedition ship vignette. The DEUTSCHLAND was en route to Antarctica where she would be beset in the ice for nine months. (Wharton IA-1-b)


(Courtesy of Herb & Janice Harvis)


Signed Filchner, WHARTON IB-1

During the last three months of 1911, the crew of the DEUTSCHLAND, led by Wilhelm Filchner, visited Grytviken, South Georgia.

Because of the depletion of stamp stocks at South Georgia, Postmaster E.B. Binney acted in accordance with his authority and franked about 2,000 pieces of mail with an improvised handstamp during 1911.

(Courtesy of George Hall)




Ernest Shackleton

Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition



A planned crossing of the Antarctic continent by the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914 by sledge was abandoned when the ice crushed the expedition ship at Elephant Island. The party was evacuated months later by a rescue party from South Georgia.

This letter was posted at South Georgia as a series written to supporters. Each was serially numbered.

(Courtesy of George Hall)