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Friday, 12 November, 1999, 16:50 GMT
Polar explorers' items withdrawn from auction
Captain Scott in one of the huts used for his explorations
Four items from South Pole expeditions led by Captain Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton have been withdrawn from auction after mounting opposition from polar experts.

The plundered artefacts, including a brass coat hook from Scott's final, doomed 1910-13 expedition, will now be donated to the Scott Polar Research Institute.

Sir Ernest Shackleton: His candle lantern was going to be sold
The move by the owner, Commander John R Claydon, came just days before the auction on 17 September by Christie's in London.

The items were taken from huts used by the expeditions by Commander Claydon, formerly of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, in 1955-58, when he was working in Antarctica with the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition.

Antarctic sites are protected by an international treaty but Commander Claydon was entitled to sell them because they were taken before it came into effect.

Now, following a protest by polar experts, Commander Claydon has withdrawn the items from the auction.

Jeff Rubin, author of the Lonely Planet guide book Antarctica: A Travel Survival Kit, said in a letter to The Times newspaper that the sale "represents a disappointing assault on Antarctica's cultural heritage

"During the 1950s, it was a common practice for the rare visitor to Antarctica to take souvenirs from the camps of previous expeditions.

"Today, however, the approach to these issues is quite different.

Captain Scott: Artefacts from his doomed expedition were in the sale
"The historic huts... are now protected sites, kept permanently under lock and key, and a vast amount of work has been undertaken to preserve and maintain them.

"Tourists, who number nearly 10,000 annually, are forbidden by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 from removing from the continent so much as a single pebble, shell or feather, let alone historic relics."

He was backed by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and other groups in Britain and New Zealand.

A Christie's spokeswoman said: "Christie's remains satisfied that the vendor has got title to lots 210 to 214 and is entitled to sell them.

"We have, however, been instructed by our vendor to withdraw these lots and he wishes to donate the items from Scott's and Shackleton's huts to the Scott Polar Research Institute."

See also:

11 Dec 98 | Sci/Tech
Antarctic epic returns to the screen
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