Fine Antiques
26 March 2003

268

SOLD FOR £135,000
An early 19th century gold mounted hardwood cane,
relating to Capt. James Cook,


the gold top finely chased and engraved with Admiral Milne's crest, the gold collar inscribed "From Adml. C.B.H. Ross C.B. To Admiral Sir David Milne G.C.B. Made of the spear which killed Captn. Cook R.N."
91cm long
Estimate £ 12,000-18,000

Provenance:
by descent from Admiral Milne.
"the ablest and most renowned navigator this or any country hath produced. He possessed all the qualifications requisite for his profession and great undertakings…"
Lord Palliser, Cook's superior officer
"... I had ambition not only to go farther than any one had been before, but as far as it was possible for man to go ..."
James Cook, R.N. James Cook was born to a farmer on the 27th October 1728 in the little Yorkshire village of Marton. His family subsequently moved to Staithes on the East coast where he was apprenticed to a shopkeeper. They then moved to Whitby, where he started his maritime career working on the colliers, ships he was to continue to sail in for the rest of his life. In 1755 he joined the Royal Navy as an ordinary seaman and four years later was part of a party surveying the St. Lawrence River in Canada. Between 1760-67 he surveyed the islands of Newfoundland, St. Pierre and Miquelon off the east coast of Canada, gaining particular distinction for observing and measuring a solar eclipse in 1766.
In 1766 the Government began looking for a man to command a ship for a cruise to the Pacific with the object of observing the transit of Venus. James Cook was given a ship, the Endeavour, of the serviceable Whitby collier type with which he was very familiar, and set sail from Plymouth in August 1768, for the first of his three great voyages.
The following autumn he received another commission, "to complete the discovery of the Southern Hemisphere". He was given two ships, the Resolution and the Adventure, which he took great care to stock with enough provisions, including lemons, to last for two years. He left England in July 1772, and sailed by way of the Cape far south among the icebergs of the Antarctic Ocean. After a run of "three thousand five hundred leagues" they put into Dusky Bay, New Zealand, where they landed domestic animals and planted English vegetables. Cook sailed his ship right round the Pole, and established that the great southern continent of the old maps was non-existent. He returned home, discovering and naming many islands on the way and crossing a greater space of sea than any ship had ever crossed before.
In less than a year Captain Cook was again in command of the Resolution, now promoted to the rank of post-captain, and had been presented with the gold medal of the Royal Society and a Fellowship. His navigation officer on this voyage was a young man of twenty-three of outstanding ability. His name was Bligh, subsequently Captain of The Bounty. The object of this third voyage was to find out whether there existed a north-east passage from Pacific to Atlantic; and for this purpose he sailed to the Pacific, visiting Van Diemen's Land, New Zealand, Otaheite, and the Friendly Islands. Then course was set for North America. The Sandwich Islands were discovered in February, and the mainland of America sighted in March 1778. All summer they explored the coast from Oregon northwards, through the Bering Strait, right up to Icy Cape, but there was no sign of an ice-free north-east passage; and Captain Cook decided to return to Hawaii in the Sandwich Islands.
The ships dropped anchor in Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii on 16th January 1779. They were greeted by an astonishing number of natives, estimated to be in the thousands, and given many gifts. A priest came on board and escorted Cook ashore to a long and moving ceremony in which it seemed he h

Sold for 150,750 (buyer's premium included)