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Plane table frame used by Captain James Cook


Plane table frame used by Captain James Cook

Object information

Physical description

A surveyor's collapsible, amber-coloured, boxwood plane table frame [measuring or scientific instrument]. It has brass hinges at the four mitred corners and in the centre of the two facing sides, which allow it to fold down so that all its parts are aligned. One face of the frame is inscribed with graduated degree scales, 0 - 360 degrees, running clockwise and counter-clockwise. The other face is inscribed with two degree scales, 0 - 180 degrees, and 180 - 360 degrees. Both faces of the frame are inscribed with rules in inches, from 1-12 on the two shorter sides and 1-15 on the two longer sides. One face is decorated with an inscribed image of a sea creature. 'M/2/62' has been written on the inward-facing edge of the frame.

Statement of significance

The Captain Cook Plane Table Frame Collection consists of a boxwood surveyor's plane table frame and a letter and receipt relating to the frame's display at the 1905 London Naval, Shipping and Fisheries exhibition. The plane table frame and associated documentation are good condition.

Captain Cook's voyages of discovery between 1768 and 1780 produced accurate maps, extensive collections of natural history specimens and ethnographic objects, and advances in navigation which revolutionised European understanding of the Pacific, and led to British colonisation of Australia and New Zealand. The plane table frame is believed to have been used by Cook on these voyages to map of the coasts of New Zealand, the east coast of Australia, and a number of other Pacific islands and their anchorages. The frame's associated documentation also attests to the passion for Cook relics which begins with the sale of his effects before HMS 'Resolution's' mast in 1779 and continues to the present day.

Object information


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