In the annals of Arctic newspapers, the Polar Almanac holds pride of place: it was actually printed using movable type and a press aboard H.M.S. Enterprise in Arctic Bay in 1853-4, making it -- at a slim 24 pages -- the most northerly printed book in the world. The technical challenges facing such a production, in a period when ink could, even aboard ship, freeze solid, and the cold metal parts of the press labored under the reduced efficacy of congealed lubricants, were daunting, and it is a remarkable credit to Henry Hester, the ship's coxswain, that he managed as much as he did. Some pages were blank, or contained only a literal "almanac" of locations and temperature readings, but many had full-page text. The whole was printed on light green paper and bound in cream-colored wrappers; the print run seems to have been fairly small, as only a handful of copies have survived. Elaine Hoag, a rare book bibliographer at the National Library of Canada, and expert on Arctic shipboard printing, says only five. In her article, "Caxtons of the North," she also notes several unusual features of this newspaper: 1) That the coxswain, rather than the ship's clerk, served as printer (a necessity since the clerk, Edward Whitehead, had died earlier on the voyage); 2) The green paper of four of the surviving copies, originally intended for balloon messages, perhaps to aid in their visibility amidst the wilderness of white; 3) That it was printed with a very limited fond of type, which contained (for instance) no italic letters. It was not at all a newspaper in the sense of (even) some of the more elaborate manuscript papers, but it had the distinction of being entirely printed.
The page shown here is from what is believed to by Captain Collinson's personal copy, as it was passed down through his family, and is in remarkably good condition.