Edward Wilson’s pipe bought by the Friends

The Friends have acquired Edward Wilson’s pipe for the Wilson Family Collection. The pipe was probably taken by Wilson on the famous 1901 Discovery Expedition, the first official British exploration of the Antarctic regions, and adds to an internationally important collection at The Wilson.

We were delighted by the strong and immediate response from Friends to our appeal. In less than a week, we raised enough in pledges to secure the purchase of the pipe. Half the cost was raised by individual donors (including David Wilson, Edward Wilson’s great-nephew), and the remainder came from the Wilson Family Collection Fund, which is administered by the Friends.

Found amongst possessions at Hooton Pagnell Hall (where Wilson’s older brother Bernard worked as the Estate Manager), the pipe was put up for sale with other contents from the house with a note stating it was the Antarctic explorer’s pipe. It is in excellent condition, featuring a silver band engraved with Wilson’s initials and a London hallmark, a rose briar bowl, and leather travel case.

Edward Wilson’s great-nephew, David Wilson said: “I am very excited that The Wilson is going to be able to display one of my great uncle’s pipes, through the generosity of the museum’s Friends.” The pipe will be displayed in the Paper Store at The Wilson from June.

Ann-Rachael Harwood, Curator of Human History at The Wilson said, “The Cheltenham Trust is delighted to have this object added to the growing collection of material that relates to Edward Wilson.” The pipe is an exciting addition to the collections at The Wilson as it adds to the items exploring the story of Edward Adrian Wilson’s role on the first of Captain Scott’s expeditions to the Antarctic. The Discovery Expedition resulted in many new discoveries in biology, zoology, geology, meteorology and cartography, as well as the discovery of the Cape Crozier emperor penguin colony. The Wilson holds fewer items relating to this expedition in the collection, so to bolster it with this pristinely preserved item is a significant achievement by the Friends in their ongoing support of The Wilson. It may have been part of the standard issue for officers on the expedition, and is likely to have been given alongside the fur suits and china dinner services taken on the ships to the Antarctic. It’s likely to have been the Royal Geographical  Society who gifted the officers with these items – as major funders of the expeditions, it would have added kudos to the Society for their gifts to be seen in official photographs of the expedition, as well as less formal records taken by the explorers.