History In Ink®  Historical Autographs


1301901

Richard E. Byrd

“My expedition, when I spent the winter night on the ice

cost a million and a half dollars . . . because I served fifteen branches of science.

. . . I expect to go back to the Antarctic next winter.  (This is confidential.)”

Richard Evelyn Byrd, Jr., 1888-1957.  Pioneering American aviator and polar explorer. Typed Letter Signed, R. E. Byrd, one page, 7¼” x 10½”, on the imprinted stationery of the Byrd Polar Expeditions, Boston, Massachusetts, March 15, 1949.  With original envelope.

Byrd talks of his Antarctic expedition and sends advice on how to join in a future one—confidentially expressing his intent to return to the South Pole.  In full:  “The way to get on an antarctic [sic] expedition is to send an application in to me or if you read of any other expedition going to the South Pole send in your application.  /  My expedition, when I spent the winter night on the ice cost a million and a half dollars.  That is a lot of money to raise and one does not have to go on such a big expedition.  Mine was so costly because I served fifteen branches of science.  /  I am sending you an autographed photograph under separate cover.  /  Although I am on the retired list, I am still active, in fact I expect to go back to the Antarctic next winter.  (This is confidential.)”

Byrd writes here to Richard C. Crook, a civil engineer who served as the Operations Officer in charge of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ construction at the Trinity test site and the laboratory for the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, New Mexico.  Click here to see the signed photograph that he sent to Cook, which we are offering separately.  The typist misspelled Crook’s name as “Crooks” on both the letter and the envelope.

Byrd claimed to have reached the North Pole by air in 1926, although doubts remain whether he and his pilot, Floyd Bennett, actually reached the pole.  His place in history was assured three years later, though, when he and his crew flew from Little America, their camp on Antarctica’s East Ross Ice Shelf, to the South Pole on November 28, 1929.

This letter is in fine condition, and the accompanying envelope is in fair condition.  The letter has two horizontal mailing folds, neither of which affects Byrd’s nice, black fountain pen signature, and shows general handling.  The envelope has stains and has been torn open at the top, with resulting paper loss affecting Byrds printed return address.  Some of the tears have been archivally repaired.  The words “Los Alamos,” the name “James Crook,” who was Richard C. Crook’s son, and other notes, in both fountain pen and pencil, are written on the back of the envelope.

Unframed.

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