In 1907, Venesta boards and boxes gained special notoriety travelling to the Antarctic with Ernest Shackleton and Captain Robert Falcon Scott.
At the same time that Venesta’s tea chest business expanded they began the importation and sale of the Luther plywood boards used for tea chests (trademarked as Venesta boards) and rapidly became synonymous with plywood in Britain and France.
The boards and boxes gained special notoriety for their use on two well-publicized Antarctic expeditions.
Ernest Shackleton’s Nimrod expedition (1907-1909) took some 2,500 Venesta boxes to the Antarctic. They withstood difficult conditions including exposure to salt water and burial in ice, and were reused as furniture and fittings within living quarters, ‘for making of the hundred and one odds and ends…in such an expedition as this’, and also as covers and binding of copies of Aurora Australis, ‘the first book ever written, printed, illustrated and bound in the Antarctic.’
For Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated Terra Nova expedition of 1910-1912, Venesta crates were reused as book shelves and again to make covers for the South Polar Times (a newspaper produced by the men of the expedition) and (with sealskin) to make boots.
*Adapted from “Plywood – A material Story” produced by Christopher Wilk for the V&A Museum
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