On May 29, 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first two men to stand atop the summit of the world’s highest peak – Mount Everest. The successful British Mount Everest Expedition made headlines around the world – especially so as the news reached the world the same day as the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953. By the time the team left Nepal just a week after the climb, Edmund Hillary was already knighted and an international hero.
Offered here is a complete set of 13 signatures of the British and New Zealand Everest pioneers which were collected by expedition member George Band on June 4, 1953 – most likely at Base Camp in Nepal. The signatures, in a mix of pencil and ink, consist of:
John Hunt – “Leader”
T. D. Bourdillon
R C Evans
W. G. Lowe
Tom Stobart [duplicate signature]
George C Band
A pencil notation at top and bottom, most likely by Band: “BRITISH MOUNT EVEREST EXPEDITION, 1953 4/6/1953”
Making this remarkable set even more desirable is the medium upon which the signatures sit – a letter from a young admirer to Band which reached him at Base Camp and stayed with him throughout the duration of the expedition.
The letter is dated March 16, 1953 and is addressed to Band “c/o British Mount Everest Expedition 1953” and reads:
Your Uncle Thomas Reive our esteemed lifelong friend aware of keen interest in every Everest expedition since and including the disastrous Mallory Expedition kindly promised to write you to please grant me a favour to send me from each base camp, if possible, an official stamped postcard with your leader’s and your signatures and of any other member. I shall gladly recompense your expense for your trouble and favour. During my several tours through India I was fortunate to see the sunrise from Tiger Hill Darjeeling on the stupendous Himalayas – Kinchenjunga also perfectly clear on Mount Everest – a marvelous wonderful, impressive never to be forgotten sight. I shall eagerly follow the reports of your expedition progress and earnestly hope your attempt to conquer the hitherto unconquerable giant Mount Everest proves successful – no casualties, suffering or loss of lives. I pray God’s blessing, guidance and protection on every one of the expedition for its success also a safe and speedy return home. Many thanks in anticipation for your courtesy trouble, and favour.
Additionally, Band has written a final letter from his home in Bebington, Cheshire just after returning from Nepal, July 9, 1953 to Mr Martin, further acknowledging “your kind letter of congratulations” and presenting the collection of Everest signatures: “As I promised, here is a complete set of the autographs of the British climbers, Yours Sincerely. George C Band.”
A nearly unattainable grouping of signatures signed just days after one of man’s most heralded accomplishments of the 20th century.
In fine condition. Newspaper clipping tipped to edge of signature sheet but is not obtrusive.