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National Museum of Australia

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4

Silver presentation case for a magnifying glass

2006.0088.0001.002

Silver presentation case for a magnifying glass

Object information

Physical description

Silver presentation case in the shape of a ship's capstan sans its handles. "THIS MAGNIFIER WAS GIVEN / by Captain James Cook / The Celebrated Navigator / TO / Mr WILLm. BAYLY / the / ASTRONOMER / to the expedition during Cook's 3rd Voyage / and presented by Mr Bayly to his Pupil, friend & Executor / MARK BEAUFOY ESQr. F.R.S." is engraved in the top of the lid, which has a single hinge on it beneath the first line of the engraving. There is an oval well inside the case, which accommodates the magnifying hand-lens. The components of the frame of the case are dove-tailed together.

Statement of significance

The Captain Cook Magnifier collection consists of a tortoiseshell-framed folding pocket magnifier and a silver reliquary, in the shape of a capstan, in which it is housed. The tortoiseshell frame around the magnifier lens is broken at one point, but the lens is in good condition. The silver reliquary is also in good condition.

Captain Cook's voyages of discovery between 1768 and his death in 1779 produced accurate maps, extensive collections of natural history specimens and ethnographic objects, and major advances in navigation which revolutionised European understanding of the Pacific and laid the path for British colonisation of Australia and New Zealand. The magnifier is an excellent example of 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. The magnifier served as a treasured memento of his captain for William Bayly, astronomer on Cook's second and third voyages, and was valued for its associations with both Cook and Bayly by its subsequent recipient and his family.

Object information

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