Pacific Voyages and Hawaiiana at Auction

Cook's Atlases, Second and Third Voyages, Lot No. 4019. Photo courtesy

Cook's Atlases, Second and Third Voyages, Lot No. 4019. Photo courtesy
Cook's Atlases, Second and Third Voyages, Lot No. 4019. Photo courtesy
An interesting and diverse collection of material related to 18 and 19th century exploration of the Pacific islands, the work of Hawaiian missionaries, and the annexation of Hawaii, will be offered by fine arts auctioneers Bonhams & Butterfields on the 22nd of November 2010 in San Francisco.

The firm’s Pacific Voyages and Hawaiiana auction will feature first editions; scarce manuscripts, memoirs and pamphlets; prints and engravings; and artifacts formerly in the collections of island royalty.

“The Pacific Islands have long been a destination for travelers, the vast region’s rich history includes the voyages of Captain James Cook and other explorers, as well as the introduction of Christianity to the local peoples by missionaries. Early printed material in the languages of the residents is considered scarce, we’re pleased to bring a [very diverse] collection-with property at all price points–to auction in November.” said Bonhams’ Books and Manuscripts Specialist Adam Stackhouse.

On offer and expected to interest collectors is the memoir by Arii Taimai, born in 1824 and the grand-daughter of Tati, paramount Chief of the Papara district of Tahiti. The 196-page first edition is expected to bring $6,000 to $8,000. Privately printed in Paris in 1901, the work is rare – the only known copies of the book are held within institutional collections.

Multiple lots feature native language pamphlets and publications produced for [locals] by missionaries and others. An interesting religious songbook printed in 1834 is expected to bring $700-900. Produced for Hawaiians, the 56-page work’s title is translated as: The Rules of Music, for Hymns and Psalms to Praise God. The musical and singing instruction manual is described as the first work printed in Hawaii with musical scoring. An excessively rare copy of an important early Hawaiian missionary broadside (est. $1,000-2,000) features a decorative typographic border. The document is a Christmas hymn, created for the 25th of December 1819, and reportedly sung by missionaries on their way to the Sandwich Islands. Several bibles will be offered, including examples printed for the native peoples of Fiji, Hawaii, Tahiti, Tonga and Samoa, among others.

In our section on 18th and 19th century voyages, we offer David McBride’s 1776 medical essays which include descriptions of methods to prevent scurvy at sea. Experimental Essays on Medical and Philosophical Subjects is described as an important book in the history of nautical medicine (est. $700-900). Thirty-Six Years of a Seafaring Life … by an Old Quarter Master is John Bechervaise’s 1839 tome, including descriptions of Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco and the Missions, Hawaii, and Kamehameha II (est. $800-1,200). The first French edition of John Rickman’s 1782 work Troisieme voyage de Cook… details the voyages of Captain Cook, estimated at $600-800.

An original circa 1787 pen and ink sketch titled Columbia and captioned “Martin’s drawing before going on a voyage” could bring $3,000 to $5,000. The drawing is 8×7-inches and depicts the ship Columbia Rediviva likely before its round the world journey – noted by historians as the first circumnavigation by an American vessel.

A manuscript signed by British explorer Philip Carteret details appointment dates of Royal Navy officers from 1661 to 1770 (est. $4-6,000). Carteret is best remembered as second in command to Samuel Wallis on a voyage for the exploration of the Southern Continent, and for his discovery of Pitcairn Island. This document, Carteret’s personal seniority log, consists of a chronological listing of naval officers promoted to Captain including their name, appointment date and in some cases historical notes regarding the officer. The first entry is for Sir Richard Haddock (May, 1661) and the last entry for Andrew Snape Hammond who served on the British Admiralty court-martial panel for The Bounty’s mutineers. Also included are entries for such famous explorers as George Anson, John Montague (Lord Sandwich), John Byron and Samuel Wallis.

Collectors will vie for a rare albumen photograph of David Kalakaua, King of Hawaii [1836-1891] (est. $500-700), and for several manuscripts related to the annexation of Hawaii as the 50th state. A copy of the Hawaiian Constitution could sell for $400-600. A portrait of Tomare, Queen of Tahiti, is estimated at $600/800.

A group of 12 Royal Alii ivory whale hook pendants, the largest measuring four-inches in length, could bring as much as $20,000 while a Monarchy coconut rattle adorned with feathers could bring $1,000 to $1,500. Original art and illustrations depict exotic island bird species, including a watercolor and several lithographs, each expected to bring $500/700. Botanical engravings may interest bidders as will whaling scenes and imprints.

  • San Francisco Preview: November 19-21, 10am-5pm
  • Auction: November 22, 10am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *