Back to list  Next lot Previous lot

Lot 200 (Fine Interiors (including Books and Maps) - Two Day Sale, 10th March 2020)

An important penguin specimen from the 'Terra Nova' Expedition 1910-1913: an Adélie penguin

An important penguin specimen from the 'Terra Nova' Expedition 1910-1913: an Adélie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae),
stuffed and mounted, possibly by Rowland Ward, on a wood plinth,
47cm high

Given by Edward Leicester Atkinson to the vendor's great-grandmother, Lady Porter, and her husband, Surgeon Vice-Admiral Sir James Porter (1851-1935). In a letter sold with the penguin, Atkinson, writes on 22 December 1913:

'Dear Lady Porter, I had hoped to have ready by Xmas an Adelie penguin as an Xmas present for Sir James and yourself. They have taken so long over them at the stores that they will not be ready, but if you will accept it I will send it as soon as I can. They only occur within the Antarctic circle. Will you kindly tell Sir James that in all probability I am going to China and please thank him very much for what he has done. I must wish you both a very happy Xmas and New Year and many of them. Yours very sincerely, E. L. Atkinson'

Atkinson was part of the fateful 'Terra Nova' or British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913, when Captain Scott and his party died on the return from the South Pole, after being beaten in the race to become the first to reach the Pole by Roald Amundsen's team, who managed the feat five weeks earlier. None of the five returned and Scott, Bowers and Wilson died together in their tent on the Great Ice Barrier around 29 March 1912.

Controversy surrounds Atkinson's decisions leading up to the attempted relief and replenishment of stores for Scott's return. Atkinson was a doctor and parasitologist on the expedition and, while Scott and his team was heading for the pole, he was in charge of the camp at Cape Evans. The first flawed decision that may have led to a different outcome was the replenishment of the dog's stores along Scott's return route, which Atkinson, after Cecil Meares, the lead dog handler had resigned, unloaded supplies from the Terra Nova rather than restocking as ordered to by Scott. On subsequent journeys to find Scott's team, it was acknowledged that they had perished, and it was not until 12 November that Atkinson led another team which found the tent with the bodies of Scott, Bowers and Wilson. Scott's diary was found documenting the unfolding disaster.

After the expedition, Atkinson went to China and discovered the cause of schistosomiasis, returning at the start of the First World War, in which he served with distinction, winning a DSO and the Albert Medal after rescuing fellow sailors during an explosion on HMS Glatton in Dover harbour on 16 September 1918.

After the war he served in various naval posts and became the youngest Surgeon Captain, retiring in 1928 on health grounds. He died in 1928, and a letter accompanies the lot from his widow to Lady Porter, dated 7 March 1929:

'Dear Lady Porter, I trust you will forgive my seeming neglect in not replying to your kind letter sooner, but the shock of my husband's death left me so stunned that I am only now feeling fit to attend to correspondence. How can I thank you for your kind sympathy and your kindly reference to my husband's abilities. To me, even more outstanding than his gallantry was his kindly disposition and his consideration for others. So shortly since did life seem full of happiness and now the desolation of it all. It has been of great comfort to have the sympathy of friends. My husband had caught a chill when at Port Said and was only really ill for about twenty-four hours. Again, let me thank Sir James and you for your sympathy and kind thoughts. Believe me, yours very sincerely, Mary F. Atkinson'

Sold for £10,500

Condition report
Some areas of wear, particularly to neck.  Paint splatters to back of base and tail, which could be considered 'naturalistic'.
General wear commensurate with age.
Please see additional images.



Absentee bidding

As you cannot attend the auction in person we can bid on your behalf. You can leave an absentee bid on our website.

The amount you bid should be your maximum bid. We will bid up to that limit for you, and remember you may end up paying less than your limit, depending on other bidding on the day.

You can leave an absentee bid up to half an hour before the start of any sale. Please note when we receive two or more absentee bids for the same amount, the first bid received will be the one taken.

Leave commission bids online on

If you would like to leave a commission bid on our website you can do so up until 30 minutes before the sale starts. Leaving a commission bid through is free for all registered clients. Thereafter you may register bank card details under your account in order to bid live. Click here to register an account.

Bid live on

You can bid live at our auctions from the comfort of your home or office using bidding platform Sworders Live.  It is easy to register and you can watch the auction live as it happens.  A 'Bid Live' button will appear on the auction on our website homepage when a sale is live; simply click the button to sign in or register with your card details. There is no additional charge for this service. 

For further instructions on registering to bid live, please click here.

Telephone bidding

If you would like to bid by telephone please contact our team prior to the auction with your details of the lots you are interested in and your full name, address, telephone number(s) and email address. Once our team have entered your bid request you will receive an email confirmation. We will contact you during the sale and one of our team will bid live with you over the phone.

Please note that we normally offer this service for lots with an estimate of £500 or higher and all telephone bid requests must be received by close of business the day before the auction.

The auction details are as follows:

Auction: Fine Interiors (including Books and Maps) - Two Day Sale, 10th March 2020


6 March 2020, 9am - 5pm
8 March 2020, 10am - 1pm
9 March 2020, 9am - 5pm
10 March 2020, from 9am
11 March 2020, from 9am


Removal of Lots

All lots should be removed by 5pm on Friday 20 March 2020.  Furniture lots remaining after this date will be removed to:  Perry Removals, Chapel End, Broxted, Essex CM6 2BW.  Removal will be at a cost of £20 plus VAT per lot and storage will be charged at £2 plus VAT per lot, per day.

View all lots in this sale

We are pleased to announce that our Stansted Auction Rooms will be open for all collections from Monday 15 June.

In order to comply with social distancing we will operate a booking system for collections – please see here for more details and to book a timeslot.  Whilst you may turn up for collections without an appointment, we very much suggest that you book as we expect to be busy and will prioritise those that have pre-booked.  Instructions surrounding social distancing and your appointment will be sent by email after booking.

We are able to provide you with a pack and send option for jewellery, coins and smaller items with an auction value of less than £2,500 and where the total weight of the package is below 2kg. Please note we are unable to post out fragile items (china, glass, etc), or paintings. If you would like to ship outside of the UK please contact us for more information - | 01279 817778

The costs are as follows for the total weight of package:
Less than 1kg - £15
From 1kg-2kg - £20

If you would like to take advantage of this service please do let us know when you purchase the item or when you receive the invoice, so we can revise your invoice accordingly.
For all other collection and delivery services, please refer to our shipping page for more information.

Click here for more details

Please note that all lots from should be paid for and collected by 5pm on the Friday following the sale from our Stansted Auction Rooms, unless alternative arrangements have been agreed with us.

We have been pleased to store items free of charge which were purchased before lockdown or when our offices were closed prior to 15 June.  We will continue to provide free storage for the immediate future for these items.  However, for June’s Homes & Interiors sale please see instructions below and note that we will need to re-introduce storage charges for furniture.

Storage Charges For Furniture

Furniture lots from our Homes and Interiors sale remaining after 5pm on the Friday following the sale will attract a storage charge of £10 for administration plus £2 plus VAT per lot per day. 

Furniture lots from our Specialist sales will be removed to Perry’s storage facility for collection and attract a storage charge of £20 for administration plus £2 plus VAT per lot per day.


Here at Sworders we are happy to offer a free online valuation service. Please fill out the form and press the 'Submit' button below.

To help us with your valuation please attach clear photographs of the item where possible. You can submit up to 5.

Approximate dimensions are also useful. Expect to hear from the appropriate valuer as soon as possible.


Drag and drop .jpg images here to upload, or click here to select images.