On March 16, 1912, sensing that the end was near, Antarctic explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott wrote a farewell letter to financier Sir Edgar Speyer, who’d raised funds for Scott’s ill-fated attempt to be the first to reach the South Pole. “I fear we must go,” Scott wrote, “but we have been to the Pole and we shall die like gentlemen.” Formerly in the collection of American polar explorer Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, the letter will be offered at Bonhams Polar Sale in London on March 30, when it’s expected to realize $155,000-$232,000.
The Terra Nova expedition that claimed Scott and all his men was his second to the Antarctic. His party of five reached the South Pole on January 17, 1912, only to discover that they were not the first: Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian expedition had preceded them. On their attempt to return, Scott and his four companions died from starvation, exhaustion, and exposure.