The Blizzard. Newspaper of the Discovery

Title page: Never mind The Blizzard I’m all right.

p. 2: Owing to the amount of time occupied in producing fifty copies of this paper, it must necessarily be limited in size, so the Editor hopes that those who do not find their contributions in this number will not be disappointed, for they may appear at some future date.

[Includes illus: The Blizzard’s Gallery of Famous People, a good deal of doggerel verse, and the programme dated May 1st 1902 of a magic lantern show about the building of Discovery and songs sang by the crew, concluded with God save the King.

Notes by Robert Headland (SPRI) about production methods of the Blizzard:

It was very much the informal base magazine, compared with ‘The South Polar Times’. Aboard ‘Discovery’ there was a hectograph duplicator, a predecessor of the ‘Fordigraph’ and similar brands of spirit duplicator. These could produce several dozen copies from a master sheet, and could do so in colour.

The process was easy. It started with strongly staining pigments, usually made from an aniline dye, applied to sheets of paper to make something like carbon paper, these were made commercially. Many colours were possible; ‘The Blizzard’ has blue, green and purple but red, black, yellow (weak) and others were also made. A master sheet of glossy paper was put on top of these dye sheets and a reverse copy made on it by sketching (hard pressure coloured pencil was best) or typing (a bit like putting the carbon paper in upside down [it must be almost at least 20 years since I last did that]). Multiple dye papers allowed multiple colours to be put on the same sheet, and all in register.

The master sheet was applied to the hectograph surface, a stiff flat gelatin plate (traditionally made in a biscuit tin lid, quarto size and ½ inch deep), and left for the dye to transfer to the gelatin surface (usually about 15 minutes). Then individual papers, slightly dampened, were layed one on a time on it, and a roller run over them for a good firm contact which transferred the dye impression to their surface.

With strong dyes perhaps 40-50 good impressions could be made, then it became weaker (some colours disappeared before others). Hence the name ‘hectograph’, a bit enthusiastic as you would have been lucky to get 100 copies. The gelatin plate could be cleaned with a damp sponge several times until it was eventually necessary to melt it for re-use and eventually discard it.

Later modifications involved a circulating drum for a direct impression from the master sheet and pigments which dissolved in methylated spirits. Paper was lightly moistened with the spirits before passing between a roller and the master on the drum. This made the purple copies of documents used in offices until Mr Xerox came along with his invention. I used one of the last to make multi-coloured copies of maps on base in the Antarctic (it might still be there, but I doubt if anyone knows what it is).

‘The Blizzard’; SPRI has two copies, identical and both dated May 1902. Alas I can find no indication of how many were made. Merely as a suggestion I would think one for each man aboard and a few spares (which is about the maximum the process can produce). Your suggestion of 50 copies would thus seem to be quite correct. There were also special menus, programmes for events (King’s Birthday), lecture notes, and similar items made with the hectograph. The two copies of ‘The Blizzard’ in SPRI each has 12 sides with blanks and one duplicate image. Shackleton is reputed to be the editor and items submitted were not quite ‘SPT’ material.

One bit of advice, the pigments fade steadily in sunlight (as I know from ephemeralia made on base – i.e. maps on the wall, not ‘The Blizzard’).