Book of Polynesian Cloth Samples Collected on Cook’s Voyages

NWs 970P C771G C3 1787

This rare book is entitled “A catalogue of the different specimens of cloth collected in the three voyages of Captain Cook to the southern hemisphere; with a particular account of the manner of the manufacturing the same in the various islands of the South Seas … and the verbal account of some of the most knowing of the navigators; with some anecdotes that happened to them among the natives.”

It was published by Alexander Shaw in London in 1787. Around 60 of Shaw’s volumes are known to have survived, containing cloth collected during Cook’s voyages in the South Seas (1776- 1780). Each volume is unique, which adds to the rarity of the object. This volume has 38 samples of Polynesian cloth, collected in places like Hawaii and Tahiti, and was acquired in 1913 from a UK bookseller for the princely sum of £35. The cloth is made from the bark of breadfruit trees, ficus, lace bark and the bark of the paper mulberry.

The book complements our collection of many publications relating to the early exploration of the Northwest Coast.

This object selected by Ann ten Cate. View Profile »