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Newly discovered sketch of Captain Cook death bay in Hawaii at Bonhams sale
The view of Kaelalekua Bay (at the time called Karakakoa Bay) shows the stump of a coconut tree on which a copper plaque in memory of Cook was placed on 17 October 1837. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- An album of views including the earliest known drawing from the Ka’awaloa side of Kaelalekua Bay where Captain Cook was killed in 1779 and the first detailed panoramic drawing of Honolulu is for sale at Bonhams Travel and Exploration sale on 3 November, estimated at £40,000-60,000.

The view of Kaelalekua Bay (at the time called Karakakoa Bay) shows the stump of a coconut tree on which a copper plaque in memory of Cook was placed on 17 October 1837 by Captain Bruce and the crew of HMS Imogene. Although the sketch is undated and unsigned it was almost certainly made at the time by someone on board Imogene, which also visited Honolulu, the Marquesas Islands, Pitcairn, Valparaiso and Callao between October 1837 and June 1838.

There good reason to think that the newly discovered panorama of Honolulu was made by the same artist on the same voyage. It is the first view of the settlement to show building-by-building details including prominent non- native constructions such as Pearce and Brewer's trading house with American flag, the British Consulate, Seamen's Bethel Church, Robinson's shipyard, and the Honolulu Fort.

Bonhams Head of Books, Matthew Haley, said, “It is always exciting to come across discoveries which add to knowledge and change perceptions. The sketch of Honolulu shows details never before seen and increases our understanding of the early days of the town which a few years later was to become the kingdom’s capital.”

The album bears the ownership inscription of a Jane Ross on board HMS President. Commanded by Admiral Ross (neither the husband nor father of Jane, but presumably closely related), President certainly came into contact with Imogene in the summer of 1838 when both ships were docked in South America. This is likely to be how the drawings came into the possession of Jane Ross.

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