BRUXELLES. Reçu de 25 frs. green, brown. No 1155. Attractive certificate, designed by Auguste Musin (1852-1923), a marine painter of some fame. We see a wide view of the Antarctic (icebergs, ice shelves, penguins, sailing-ship) and a rather smaller vignette showing the ship leaving Antwerp. Also logo of the Belgian Royal Geographical Society. The latter tried to obtain sufficient funding from the public (through the issue of these certificates) for the first Belgian polar expedition. Approx. 250.000 frs. were needed and the public contributed some 100.000 frs. The Belgian government and the city of Antwerp arranged for subsidies for the remaining amount. The expedition was the idea of Adrien de Gerlache (1866-1934), a Hasselt-born Belgian Navy officer. He purchased a Norwegian-built whaling shipand, following an extensive refit, renamed it the "Belgica". The ship left Antwerp in 1897 and would only return home in November 1899. de Gerlache led the (scientific) expedition. He was accompanied by some notable individuals, for instance the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen (the first man to reach the South Pole), the American explorer Frederick Cook (the first man to reach the North Pole), the Polish meteorologist Henryk Arctowski, the Romanian biologist Emil Racovita, etc. They made history, in part for their various scientific discoveries, but also because they were the first men to spent an entire winter in the Antarctic region. Facsimile signatures of Count Hipppolyte d'Ursel (a Belgian senator) and M. du Fief, resp. the chairman and secretary of the Geographical Society. A piece of Belgian history every schoolchild learns about, even nowadays. Never before seen by us.
Date: 25 March 1896
Startprice: € 400