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Personal effects of Scott of the Antarctic acquired for the nation on the centenary of his death

  • Date: 20 July 2012
  • Area: National

A collection of medals collection of medals, papers and sketches, an oil portrait, and a sculptor's model of Britain's most famous polar explorer, Scott of the Antarctic, have been acquired for the nation through the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme.

Objects of outstanding importance in place of inheritance tax

Acceptance in Lieu allows taxpayers to pay their inheritance tax by offering objects of outstanding importance to the nation. Tax of £378,700 has been settled by the acceptance of this offer.

Captain Robert Falcon Scott RN (1868-1912) was one of the greatest explorers of his age. This year marks the centenary of his tragic death on 29 March 1912, on his return journey from the South Pole.

The collection

The collection of objects recognises both achievements during his lifetime and honours received after his death. It features 25 medals - including the Royal Geographical Society Patron's Gold Medal awarded to him in 1904 following the first of his Antarctic explorations - and the a portrait which is the only known oil of Scott painted from life.

Also part of the Scott material that has passed into public ownership is a group of papers and sketches that includes the letter from Victor Campbell telling Scott that the rival expedition under Roald Amundsen had been sighted in Antarctica. When Scott's group reached the South Pole on 17 January 1912, he found that Amundsen had beaten him by a few weeks.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes, record breaking explorer and the only man to have travelled around the Earth's circumpolar surface, commented:

'Captain Scott was without a doubt the greatest polar explorer of all time - and possibly, since 1979, the most lied about in print.

'His expeditions, including the one on which he died, produced more scientific information about Antarctica than all the other international expeditions of the first half of the 20th century. Anyone who has man-hauled across the Antarctic without outside support, and therefore understands what Scott and his men achieved, will know that Scott stands out, above all others, as a truly great polar reader.'

Safeguarding the nation's cultural property

The Acceptance in Lieu Scheme is administered by Arts Council England's Acquisitions, Exports, Loans and Collections Unit. The unit safeguards and enriches the nation's cultural property by awarding Accreditation and Designation to museums and collections; administers Government Indemnity which provides a no-cost alternative to insurance for loans on public exhibition; recommends which vital works of art and items of cultural significance should remain in the country; and advises on the acceptance and allocation of cultural objects in lieu of inheritance tax.