Friday, December 21, 2007

Preserving Chalk Penguins

This BBC story is making the listserv rounds today - it's not entirely book-related, but it's got an important preservation angle. Several blackboards have been found in the basement of Cambridge University's Scott Polar Research Institute, but these aren't just any old blackboards. They contain (signed) chalk sketches of penguins drawn by Captain Robert F. Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton for public lectures in 1904 and 1909.

Dr Huw Lewis-Jones, who found the drawings, told the BBC "People often compare Scott and Shackleton in terms of their achievements as explorers and their leadership qualities. Now, albeit with a smile on our faces, we can judge their artistic abilities as well. Some people may think they [the penguins] look a little crude but I think they are incredibly charming. They were drawn at public lectures in front of an enthusiastic audience, to laughter and to cheers, and then signed with a flourish. It's like having the explorers' autographs, only more wonderful, because each has signed their name next to a hand-drawn penguin."

The Institute is seeking donations to preserve and display the drawings.