The Smell of Old Leather

Royal Geographic Society Library

research-library-archivesOur next destination had a unique collection because it didn’t specifically cater to books, but in objects and navigational apparatuses.  The Royal Geographic Society Library holds about 2 million items and was founded in 1830.  They house a variety of maps, atlases, paintings, archives, books and periodicals.

We were sat around a very large table that was covered in a variety objects from the collection.  We were told that they were from different expeditions from around the world, specifically, the Arctic, South Central Africa, the Antarctic and Mount Everest.

We were shown many different objects from these expeditions, including a bar of choloclate, beef fat sweets (they were for energy), and a lone leather climbing boot.  While we were told about all of the journey’s that the Society help to finance and facilitate throughout his time, the one that most intrigued me was the journey to the top of Mount Everest and George Mallory.

There are still some questions that still arise from this first trek.  In 1922 George Mallory and Andrew Irvine were put on an exhibition to be the first people to make it to the top of Mount Everest.  They did not come back from that journey.  A team was sent to hopefully find the mens bodies, but they only found Mallory, but because the trek is so treacherous and exhausting his body wasn’t brought back just some of his personal belongings, that include a climbing shoe.  They were sent with a camera but it was never found, its believed it may be with Irvine’s body that wasn’t recovered, so the journey is partially shrouded in mystery because of this.


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