This unopened tin of tea formed part of the supplies taken on the ship 'Discovery' during Captain Robert Falcon Scott's British National Antarctic Expedition of 1901-1904. A label stuck onto the bottom of the tin reads, 'This Tin of Tea was cached by / Commander R.F.Scott during his / journey towards the South Pole in / 1902. It was recovered and brought / to New Zealand by the Shackleton / expedition in 1908, and was given / to my brother-in-law H.D.Aclands.'
The 'RRS Discovery' was the last wooden three-masted ship to be built in the British Isles, and was launched on 21 March 1901, designed for Antarctic research. Her first mission was for the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901-04 (also known as the 'Discovery'), carrying Scott and Ernest Shackleton to the Antarctic. The expedition was sponsored by the Royal Geographical Society, primarily for scientific and surveying work aimed at placing the British navy at the forefront of Polar exploration.
Scott led his team further south than anyone before them, coming within around 850 km of the South Pole, and undertook the first aerial survey of the area via balloon.
Between 1910 and 1913 Scott returned to Antarctica with the Terra Nova Expedition. Although again scientific, this also involved a race to be the first team to reach the South Pole. Tragically when Scott arrived at the South Pole on January 17-18, 1912, he found that Norwegian Roald Amundsen and his team had already arrived a month earlier. Scott's entire party perished on the return journey, succumbing to injury, frostbite, malnutrition and exhaustion. Scott's journal was later recovered, his final entry reading: 'Had we lived I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman...We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker of course and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more. For God's sake, look after our people. R. Scott'.
Honnywill, Eleanor, 'The Challenge of Antarctica', Methuen & Company Limited, London, 1969
Mortimer, Gavin, 'Shackleton and the Antarctic Explorers: The men who battled to reach the South Pole', Carlton Books Ltd, Dubai, 1999