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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 2/28/2005
This extremely rare, remarkable and lengthy 26 page (8x10) letter is entirely penned in her neat hand, August 28, 1900. Written while aboard the vessel "Windward" sailing in the arctic trying to locate her husband who had left one year earlier. She bares her heart to him as she writes about his illicit affair and child…and much much more. The letter evidently did get to the arctic explorer eventually. It is significant to note that Josephine Peary had accompanied her husband on two earlier arctic explorations and she is recorded as the first white woman to actually winter on an arctic expedition while on that first voyage in 1891-93. This utterly fascinating letter is as much a journal of that Arctic voyage by Mrs. Peary and her attempt to reach her husband as it is a revelation about her discovery of Robert Peary's affair and the child born of his mistress…and is even more a disclosure about the lovely nature of Mrs. Peary herself ! Josephine begins: "My husband…Today I feel as though I should not see you this year and I must put on paper what I had hoped to talk over with you…It came about that I had the opportunity of coming North this year, but believe me, had I known how things were with you here I should not have come." …She recounts the outfitting of her ship, the inadequacies of the 'Windward' and news of Peary's Explorer Club which was supporting his expedition: "…I have only seen such letters of yours to the Club as have been published…You are making the same mistake that you made in your former expeditions of giving all your news to the Public before you bring it out in book form…I will do all I can to have your leave [from the U.S. Navy] extended six months from May 1902…The ship will also come up prepared for two seasons…it left August 21 after getting everything on board except Nipsangwah [Eskimo guide and his family]…steamed up to Baird Inlet where we met heavy ice coming down very fast. Now we are packed in tight and drifting…the Capt. says it is not far from here that the Proteus was lost. I told him we must get the supplies to Cape Sabine…I have looked out for Allakasingwah [Peary's Eskimo mistress] and your boy and allowed them in the cabin…I have not questioned her at all in regard to you, except to ask her about your feet and if you were able to travel on them during the winter. IT CUT ME LIKE A KNIFE TO HEAR HER TELL MARIE [their daughter] ABOUT YOU, EVEN TO THE LOCKET WHICH YOU WORE. TO THINK SHE HAS BEEN IN YOUR ARMS, HAS RECEIVED YOUR CARESSES, HAS HEARD YOUR LOVE CRIES, I COULD DIE AT THE THOUGHT…on reaching [port] I find you have probably never given me a thought and a creature scarcely human has the power to make you forget everything…After sending everyone away you remained to enjoy her until the last moment…you gave me three years of the most exquisite pleasure that can be had…after that the pleasure was pretty evenly divided with the pain, until now it is all pain, except the memory of what has been. My predecessor did not fare so well. Will my successor fare better ?" …In an effort to update Peary on the news of the day: "…I must tell you about Admiral Dewey. There never was such a fuss made over anyone before. Honors were heaped upon him and he received gifts from every part of the U.S. [and] married Washington McLean's daughter…she is responsible for his downfall…" Mrs. Peary relates the furor over Dewey's misuse of his gifts and his presidential aspirations and "…When I left home affairs in China were in a terrible state. It was said that not a foreigner was alive in Pekin…the two new boats which the Club sends have not been named…the Armitages are disappointed that he was not selected Commander of the English arctic expedition." She then discusses equipment, bedding, dishes, etc. that had disappeared from the vessel that Peary had bought and paid for and evidently was making claim for against the government, advising him how it should be handled. Then, again speaking of the Eskimo mistress who she calls by a more familiar name of "Ally" she writes: "…I shall leave you the one who will make up to you for your disappointment in not getting the supplies to Conger. She has been Stein's 'companion' almost constantly on the trip…if I remember correctly she is Lee's, too…" Difficulties are experienced in leaving the vessel and Mrs. Peary is gravely disappointed at the failure to meet up with her husband. As the "Windward" is in danger of capsizing, she and her child and the crew narrowly escape their demise. "…I know you will be disappointed not getting any dogmeat and the supplies no nearer…but I assure you everything was done by Capt. Sam to push on…I take the responsibility of ordering her home [that power was given her by the Peary Club]." The Eskimo mistress develops a severe illness and Mrs. Peary takes the responsibility upon herself of nursing the woman although "…I am quite sick from the odor of the woman and…you know my antipathy to handling these creatures at all times…We began to get provisions ashore today. 'Ally' [the mistress] told me that the natives had stolen quantities of stuff…that the Greenland side was a bad place for a cache…" Entire last page of the letter taken up discussing "Ally's" deteriorating condition and Mrs. Peary's ministering to her…despite the fact that the vessel's captain forbid her to continue helping the Eskimo lady. She had been told that nothing more could be done to save her and writes to her husband: "…I thought that you would wish me to see that she was as comfortable as possible, so I went forward to the galley to get some milk for her. The steward strongly advised me not to go down…the captain hearing us talking came from his dinner and said 'Mrs. Peary you must not go it is not necessary and you shall not run the risk of breathing that fetid air' I only looked at him and pointed to his dinner." The letter ends: "This afternoon she was taken ashore. I never saw such a sight. I asked Mr. W. to see that the boy is not killed if the mother dies and he has promised to be a mother to him. I hope for your sake the woman will recover." It ends with those words; there is no signature of Josephine…and history records that Peary was reunited with them on May 6, 1901. The letter shows light, normal aging, but may be rated exc. Accompanying it are four photograph prints quite obviously made from the original negatives of the lovely bodied, young Eskimo lady "Ally" in an outdoor setting of rough terrain (Greenland or Arctic). Photos about 4½ x 6 each slightly varying. Accompanying this letter is a wealth of research material performed in 1990-1991 when they were acquired from a very reliable source, giving their background. The research includes important letters from societies specializing in Peary and arctic material and include copies of other letters of Josephine Peary which prove beyond any shadow of doubt that it is her writing; also photostats from a classic work "Peary; the Explorer and the Man" based on his personal paper; by John E. Weems, 1967, in which he actually quotes a few passages from this identical letter. Also an original letter from daughter of Admiral Peary who at the time was still living on his famous "Eagle Island" in Maine. The substantiating research material substantiates this remarkable 26 page letter beyond any shadow of doubt.
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Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $3,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $5,581.25
Estimate: $6,000 - $8,000
Auction closed on Monday, February 28, 2005.
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