100653 | SWEDEN & NORWAY. S. A. Andrée & F. Nansen white metal Medal.

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    100653 | SWEDEN & NORWAY. Salomon August Andrée & Fridtjof Nansen white metal Medal. Issued 1897. The Scandinavian Polar Expeditions (50, 52.86 g, 12h). By A. Högel in Stockholm.

     

    ANDRÉES POLAREXPEDITION / FRÅN GÖTEBORG DEN 7 JUNI 1896, hot air balloon Örnen flying over representation of the earth, centered upon the North Pole; to upper left, bust of Andrée right within oval medallion / FRIDTHIOF NANSEN / FRÅN KRISTIANIA DEN 24 JUNI 1893, the Fram under sail left upon the ocean; at center, bust of Nansen facing slightly left within oval medallion. Edge: Plain.

     

    Malpas 156. Choice Mint State. Lightly toned and lustrous.

     

    In 1897, S. A. Andrée led a hydrogen balloon expedition which was intended to see its explorers go from Svalbard (a Norwegian archipelago situated halfway between Norway and the North Pole) to either Canada or Russia, passing over the geographic North Pole in the process. The trip was ill-fated, however, and the balloon crashed only a few days into its journey. While the crew was uninjured, it was left deserted on the uninhabited ice cap island of Kvitøya as winter was approaching. Photographs taken by the crew were eventually developed when their exposed film and belongings were discovered decades later, the mystery of their fate finally being answered.

     

    Equally as challenging, Fridtjof Nansen had been pondering an expedition to the North Pole since the early 1880's. After observing wreckage from a ship wash up near Greenland (on the opposite side of the Arctic whence it had gone asunder), the theory was made that there was, in fact, an ocean current even near pole. Nansen believed that he could sail northward until pack ice was encountered, at which point the engines would be powered down and rudder raised, allowing the vessel to be frozen with the ice, drifting along with the Arctic current and hopefully across the North Pole. The theory was correct, but very unpredictable, and Nansen made the calculation that the crew would not endure the lengthened time of the journey (five years had been planned). Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen then broke away and attempted to pursue their polar destination through dog sledding. Though they were able to get further north than anyone prior in recorded history (86°13.6′N), Nansen again made the calculation that supplies would not allow a completion, and they began their retreat, ultimately rejoining their crew nearly a year-and-a-half after parting ways with them while the Fram was still stuck in ice.

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