1910 Arctic Scenes (T30)
Hassan Cork Tip Cigarettes, New York City, New York, USA

Series Title: Arctic Scenes
Issued by: Hassan Cork Tip Cigarettes, New York City, New York
Country: USA
Number of Cards: 25
Card Numbering: unnumbered
Card Dimensions: 63.5 × 81.3 mm
Circa: 1910
Checklist: Download

S. A. Andrée’s Arctic Balloon Expedition of 1897 {1}

S. A. Andrée’s Arctic balloon expedition of 1897 was an effort to reach the North Pole in which all three expedition members perished. S. A. Andrée (1854-1897), the first Swedish balloonist, proposed a voyage by hydrogen balloon from Svalbard to either Russia or Canada, which was to pass, with luck, straight over the North Pole on the way. The scheme was received with patriotic enthusiasm in Sweden, a northern nation that had fallen behind in the race for the North Pole.

Andrée ignored many early signs of the dangers associated with his balloon plan. Being able to steer the balloon to some extent was essential for a safe journey, and there was plenty of evidence that the drag-rope steering technique he had invented was ineffective; yet he staked the fate of the expedition on drag ropes. Worse, the polar balloon Örnen (The Eagle) was delivered directly to Svalbard from its manufacturer in Paris without being tested; when measurements showed it to be leaking more than expected, Andrée refused to acknowledge the alarming implications of this. Most modern students of the expedition see Andrée’s optimism, faith in the power of technology, and disregard for the forces of nature as the main factors in the series of events that led to his death and the deaths of his two companions Nils Strindberg (1872-1877) and Knut Frœnkel (1870-1897).

After Andrée, Strindberg, and Frœnkel lifted off from Svalbard in July 1897, the balloon lost hydrogen quickly and crashed on the pack ice after only two days. The explorers were unhurt but faced a grueling trek back south across the drifting ice scape. Inadequately clothed, equipped, and prepared, and shocked by the difficulty of the terrain, they did not make it to safety. As the Arctic winter closed in on them in October 1897, the group ended up exhausted on the deserted Kvitøya (White Island) in Svalbard and died there. For 33 years the fate of the Andrée expedition remained one of the unsolved riddles of the Arctic. The chance discovery in 1930 of the expedition’s last camp created a media sensation in Sweden, where the dead men were mourned and idolized. Andrée’s motives have later been re-evaluated, along with the role of the polar areas as the proving-ground of masculinity and patriotism. An early example is Per Olof Sundman’s fictionalized bestseller novel of 1967, The Flight of the Eagle (later filmed as Flight of the Eagle), which portrays Andrée as weak and cynical, at the mercy of his sponsors and the media. The verdict on Andrée by modern writers for virtually sacrificing the lives of his two younger companions varies in harshness, depending on whether he is seen as the manipulator or the victim of Swedish nationalist fervor around the turn of the 20th century.

Until Andrée’s last camp was found in 1930, what could have happened to the expedition was the subject of myth and rumors. In 1898, eleven months after Andrée’s first sighting of White Island (which he called New Iceland) a Swedish polar expedition led by A. G. Nathorst was passing by just 1 km off shore the camp, but the weather stopped them from getting ashore. Already around this time, it was noticed that a heavy storm had been raging and that the expedition had lost the steering lines at departure, and experienced polar explorers surmised already before 1930 that the expedition couldn’t have got very far and had likely been forced down on the ice. Finally the remains of the three men were found in 1930 by the Norwegian Bratvaag Expedition which picked up remains including two bodies. A month later the ship M/K Isbjørn, hired by a newspaper, made additional finds, among them the third body. Note books, diaries, photographic negatives, the boat and many utensils and other objects were recovered. The homecoming of the bodies of Andrée and his colleagues Strindberg and Frœnkel was a grand event. King Gustaf V delivered an oration, and the explorers received a funeral with great honors. The three explorers were cremated and their ashes interred together at the cemetery Norra begravningsplatsen in Stockholm.

Starting in the 1960s, Andrée’s status as a national hero has become questioned and turned into a cooler, more skeptic view, in a way not unlike the changing assessment of Robert Falcon Scott’s South polar journey. The emphasis has been turned to the fact that the expedition was bound to fail, and that Andrée obviously refused to take in information that questioned the expedition’s feasibility (and also had meagre actual flight experience with large balloons, and none in Arctic conditions). Andrée has been seen as a manipulator of the national emotions of his age, bringing a meaningless death on himself and his two companions. Several modern writers, following Sundman’s Andrée portrait in the semi-documentary novel The Flight of the Eagle (IngenjÖr Andrées luftfärd, 1967), have speculated that Andrée, by the time of the departure for Svalbard in 1897, had become the prisoner of his own successful funding campaign and the excited national feelings, and was now incapable of backing out or admitting weaknesses in the plans in front of the press.


During 1910, S. A. Andrée’s Arctic balloon expedition of 1897 was featured in an unnumbered 25-card cigarette trade-card set titled Arctic Scenes that featured artwork by the Italian artist Albert Operti. Albert Operti (1852-1927) was renowned in his day for his depictions of the natural wonders of the Arctic, as well as scenes of exploration and ships. Born in Italy and educated in Britain, he accompanied Robert Peary on his 1896 expedition to Greenland, a trip which resulted in hundreds of sketches and studies which would be the basis for his later work. Many of his paintings were commissioned by, and remain in the collection of, the Explorers’ Club in New York, but are not widely known in the art world. Yet although much of his work was based on direct observation, many of his most dramatic paintings imagine scenes of terror at which Operti was not in fact present. Operti’s works are not often seen or exhibited. And yet, curiously, contemporary prints of some of his finest paintings can seen in paintings featured in the 1910 Arctic Scenes set of 25 scenes he prepared for trading cards issues by the Hassan Oriental Cigarette Company. All 25 cards of the series are shown below in the T30 Image Guide.

The fronts of each of the twenty-five cards feature one of Operti’s Arctic Scenes surrounded by a thin black rectangular borderline with a minimal exterior margin. The only text on the card fronts is the title of the card and the artist’s name A. Operti. The backs of the cards feature an attractive serpentine rectangular border with a vertical stack three basic elements: (1) the card title, (2) a descriptive text, and (3) advertising copy. The cards are unnumbered. The measured dimensions of the cards are 63.5 × 81.3 mm. Twenty-one the cards are presented in a landscape (horizontal) format, and the remaining four cards are presented in a portrait (vertical) format. The American Card Catalog reference number for the set is T30.

Image-Guide {2}

Checklist {2}

1910 Arctic Scenes (T30)
Hassan Cork Tip Cigarettes, 25-Cards, USA
Seq. №
xCard Title
1The America
2Andrée’s Balloon
3Andrée’s Farewell Message
4An Approaching Blizzard
5The Arctic Aurora
6Arctic Moonlight
7A Cairn
8Cape Parry
9Cape Sabine
10Cape Victoria
11The Crow’s-Nest
12Edge of a Glacier
13The Erebus and Terror
14Eskimo Child
15Eskimo Puppies
16Eskimo Woman
17The Explorer’s Friend
18The Fury of an Artist Gale
19Hanging Glacier
20The Hansa
21The Jeannette
22Melville Bay Iceberg
23The Midnight Sun
24Polaris Beach
25The Tegetthof


  1. Wikipedia: Andrée’s Arctic Balloon Expedition of 1897
  2. John A. Shupek: Card images via the Skytamer Archive Digital Image Database.


Skytamer Images (
Est. 1998