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Silver presentation case containing a small magnifier, which was given to astronomer William Bayly by Captain James Cook on his third voyage

2006.0088.0001

Silver presentation case containing a small magnifier, which was given to astronomer William Bayly by Captain James Cook on his third voyage

Object information

Description

The magnifier is said to have been given to William Bayly, Astronomer onboard the HMS Discovery during Cook's third voyage to the Pacific from 1776 to 1779/80, by Captain Cook. The silver case is dated to 1843, and the inscription was placed there by Mark Beaufoy's son.

Physical description

A circular magnifier hand-lens in a tortoishell frame, which is hinged to a circular tortoisehell cover. The magnifier is housed in a silver case in the shape of a ship's capstan. The lid of the case is engraved with the inscription '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.'.

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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