VILHJALMUR STEFANSSON - TYPED LETTER SIGNED 07/07/1924 - HFSID 176044
Sale Price $637.50
THE ARCTIC EXPLORER DISCUSSES SEAL HUNTING AND MENTIONS THREE OF HIS BOOKS
VILHJALMUR STEFANSSON. Typed Letter Signed: "V. Stefansson.", 1p, 8x10. Adelaide, South Australia, 1924 July 7. To Mr. Charles S. McCombs, Dallas, Texas. Headed: "Permanent Address/American Geographical Society, Broadway at 156th Street, New York, N.Y." Begins: "Dear Mr. McCombs". In full: "Thanks for your letter of May 16th and the pleasant things you say about my 'Eskimo' and 'Friendly Arctic' books. The newspapers seldom are right but the clipping about Captain Bartlett's sealing is not as inaccurate as you may have inferred. There are seals and seals. Some seals are not seals at all, as, for instance, the fur seal which is a sea lion (fur seal being a popular or trade name). You will find in the Antarctic books that you can walk up to one of the seals and s hake hands with him. That may annoy but it will not frighten him. It is perfectly true that on the floating ice beyond Newfoundland and in certain other places sailors go on the ice with shotguns and even clubs and kill thousands. You are right, of course, about the arctic seal proper as found in the Beaufort Sea. No class or men could be more helpless under ordinary conditions than the professional sealers, such as Bartlett. They would have to go through a considerable apprenticeship before they would be able to kill the first seal either by auktok or mauttok methods. Of course, anyone can shoot seals in the water and then retrieve them with a manak. If you liked these two books, why don't you try another? Borrow the 'Northward Course of the Empire' out of some library. It is a small book, easy to read and in a way my favorite." This letter mentions three of Stefansson's books: My Life With the Eskimo, which detailed his explorations from 1908-1912, was published in 1913; The Friendly Arctic: The Story of Five Years in Polar Regions was published in 1921 (despite its title, the Arctic was not friendly to the 17 men who died on the expedition detailed in the book); and, The Northward Course of Empire was published in 1922. The auktok method was used when hunting seals on top of the ice; the Eskimo hunter would crawl up to them on his stomach to kill them. Traditional seal hunting involved waiting near a seal's breathing hole in the ice and killing it when it emerged for air. Artic explorer and scientist Vilhjalmur Stefansson (1879-1962) spent a total of ten winters and seven summers exploring Canada's northern regions. Referred to as the "Prophet of the North", he covered a distance of nearly 20,000 miles in his travels on foot and by dogsled, living among and adopting the clothing and habits of the native Inuit people. Stefansson, who became a lecturer at Dartmouth in the 1930s and 1940s, did much to change the image of the Arctic through his lectures and writings, portraying the region as friendly and hospitable. Captain Bartlett was ROBERT BARTLETT (1875-1946), also called "Captain Bob" of Newfoundland, who made more than 40 voyages to the far North, covering some 200,000 miles on Arctic waters. In 1909, when Admiral Peary reached the North Pole by dog team, Bartlett had brought the Roosevelt to within 133 miles of the Pole, and when the Karluk was crushed by ice, Bartlett was responsible for saving a number of lives. Lightly creased with folds, not at signature. Fine condition.
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