1897 Broadsheet Invitation Map of the Arctic for the Paris Nansen Reception

Sociéte de Géographie Réception du Dr F. Nansen dans la Grande Salle des Fétes du Trocadéro, le Vendredi 26 Mars 1897.

1897 Broadsheet Invitation Map of the Arctic for the Paris Nansen Reception


Map and broadsheet invitation to the reception at the Paris Geographcal Society following the rescue of the Fridtjof Nansen 'Fram Expedition' to the North Pole. One of only two known examples.

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Sociéte de Géographie Réception du Dr F. Nansen dans la Grande Salle des Fétes du Trocadéro, le Vendredi 26 Mars 1897.
  1897 (dated)    13 x 11 in (33.02 x 27.94 cm)     1 : 20000000


A truly remarkable bit of ephemera, this is the broadside initiation to the March 26, 1897 reception for the Norwegian Arctic explorer Fridtjof Nansen at the Paris Société de Géographie. The invitation consists of a map illustrating Nansen's 1893 – 1896 voyage, called the Fram Expedition over the northern polar ice cap. The map extends from the North Pole, at center, as far south as Iceland and the Bering Strait.

In the early 1880s Nansen, already an experienced Arctic explorer, developed a theory of Arctic drift based upon the discovery of the remains the Jeanette on the southwest coast of Greenland. The Jeanette was an ex-Royal Navy gunboat repurposed by the U.S. Navy as an arctic exploration vessel and sent through the Bering Strait. The Jeanette expedition, under George Washington De Long was a disaster and the Jeanette itself sunk off the Siberian coast. Its remains reappeared three years later, on the opposite side of the world, in Greenland. Based upon this evidence, Nansen speculated that previous expeditions to the North Pole failed because they did not account for Arctic currents. He believed that if an explorer, himself, were to work with the currents, he would naturally be carried close to the Arctic Pole.

Although heavily criticized by arctic experts, including Ross, Nansen secured funding through the Norwegian government to launch an expedition and prove his hypothesis. Setting out from Oslo (Christiania) Nansen passed north of Norway and skirted the Russian and Siberian coast until reaching the New Siberian Islands, where he turned his ship, the specially designed Fram towards the pole. Impatient with the pace, little more than a mile a day, Nansen instead decided to hasten his discovery of the North Pole by embarking overland via dogsled. After several weeks of difficult sledge travel Nansen, and his companion Hjalmar Johansen, decided that the pole was unobtainable on their limited provisions and turned south towards Franz Joseph Land.

On the way, by sheer luck, they ran into Frederick Jackson, an English explorer who, after being rejected as a potential candidate to join Nansen, organized his own expedition towards the pole via Franz Joseph Land. Jackson 'rescued' Nansen and Johansen, and the trio returned to civilization vis Jackson's supply ship, the Windward.

Meanwhile, the Fram had been left under the command of Sverdrup who was simply to allow the ship to be guided by the Arctic drift while keeping the crew active and taking detailed scientific observations. Eventually, the drift turned southwest and the Fram emerged from the icepack near Spitzbergen, from whence they returned to Norway.

Back in Europe, the survivors of the Nansen expeditions were greeted as heros and toasted with receptions in the geographical societies of the great capitals of Europe, starting with Norway, followed by London, and then Pairs. This extremely rare broadside is the invitation to Nansen's March 26, 1897 Paris reception.

This broadside was designed by J. Hansen and engraved by Erhard Freres, Paris. It is extremely rare with only one other surviving example known, that residing in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. A once in a lifetime opportunity for the Arctic collector.


Georges Erhard Schièble (1823 – November 23, 1880) was a German printer active in Paris during the middle to late 19th century. Erhard was born in Forchheim, Baden-Württemberg, and relocated to Paris in his 16th year, where he apprenticed under his cousin, an engraver and mapmaker. In 1852, after 6 years with the Royal Printing Office, he started his own business. Around this time he also became a naturalized French citizen. From his offices on Rue Bonaparte, he produced several important maps, and a detailed topography of Gual for Napoleon III's History of Julius Caesar. In 1865 he took on larger offices expanding his operations to include a lithographic press. He was among the first to introduce printed color maps and pioneered photo-reduction, including the process known as Erhard reproduction. After Erhard's death in 1880, the firm was taken over by his sons and run under the imprint of 'Erhard Frères' until 1911.


Very good. Original creases. Blank on verso. Else fine.


Bibliothèque Nationale de France, GE D-9622.