Rare documents detailing Scotland’s links to the world’s most famous explorers will go on display in Perth.
A letter from the first man to walk on the moon Neil Armstrong, a telegram from Robert Peary claiming to have reached the North Pole and a rare newspaper cover marking the first successful team to have climbed Everest are among the papers on show.
The Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) is displaying the documents in the exhibition Firsts and Nearly Firsts in Perth’s Fair Maid’s House on Friday to mark the start of its summer season.
The collection is on display for only two hours between 1 and 3pm.
The famous society, and its archive of rare papers, is based in Perth after flitting from Edinburgh in 2008.
The RSGS exhibition includes a letter from Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong sent after his visit to deliver a lecture in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall in March 1972.
The astronaut thanks his hosts for their hospitality and for a gift of “lovely Scottish jewelry”.
RSGS writer-in-residence Jo Woolf – who has drawn on the archive for her book on explorers The Great Horizon – said the exact type of gift was still unknown.
“The answer may be in the archive somewhere. I’ve got to keep looking.”
She said the papers laid out the connections between Scotland and a number of world famous explorers.
The telegram from American polar explorer Robert Peary – which states simply “North pole discovered April sixth 1909” – is one of the most interesting.
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“That should be a nearly first really. It is disputed that he ever reached the North Pole as he didn’t have the equipment to corroborate it. He sent telegrams to everybody, including RSGS saying he had reached it, but we don’t know. We think he may have got within 60 miles.
“The exhibition is an unusual opportunity to see these documents together in this way. The RSGS ties together so many different types of explorer.”
The visitor centre has limited opening hours during the summer, but is open most afternoons from 1pm.
RSGS chief executive Mike Robinson said: ““I hope that those who visit our headquarters in Perth – whether young or old – will be amazed by the greats and game-changers who have been associated with our small charity, and inspired to discover, learn and care more about the world around them.”