James Cook: Celebrated North Country Explorer

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COOK IN THE NORTH EAST ~ NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE

Housed in the current building since 1884 (called the Hancock Museum since 1891) the ethnographic collections can be traced back to 1793 with the foundation of the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society and are of international significance. The collection of George Allan was purchased by the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society in 1822 and contains a number of items associated with Cook’s voyages, including this Maori paddle.
Paddle in the Hancock Museum

The bottom example of these paddles is the one preserved in the Hancock Museum, Newcastle (NEWHM:C589) Sydney Parkinson, artist on Cook’s First Voyage, wrote:
The bottom of their (Maori) canoes was made out of a single tree; and the upper part was formed of two planks, sewed together, narrowed both at head and stern. The former was very long, having a carved head at the end of it painted red, and the stern ended in a flat beak. They had thwarts to sit on, and their paddles were curiously stained with a red colour, disposed into various strange figures; and the whole together was no contemptible workmanship”.
(Parkinson 1773, 90, 12 October 1769)
Three paddles from New Zealand

Although this Hawaiian wickerwork head has no Cook voyage associations it is similar to a group of items collected and recorded on the Third Voyage. These featherwork objects include: heads; cloaks; capes; aprons; helmets and ornaments.
This item represents perhaps one of the rarest category of artefact in the Hancock Museum’s collections.
Wickerwork Head in the Hancock Museum

On Cook’s Third Voyage it was observed of the Hawaiians:
…in the Center Canoe were the busts of what we supposed their Gods made of basket work, variously covered with red, black, white & Yellow feathers, the Eyes represent’d by a bit of Pearl Oyster Shell with a black button, & the teeth were those of dogs, the mouths of all were stragely distorted, as wel as other features.
( King in Cook, Journals III, I, 512)
An Idol made of Wicker

The early date of the Allan Museum collection (pre-1800) means that there are few possible origins for items like this club from New Caledonia than Cook’s voyages.

During Cook’s visit to New Caledonia during the Second Voyage (1772-75) the men of the Island traded clubs, darts and other weapons with Cook’s men.
Club in the Hancock Museum

Long handled clubs or quarterstaffs/battleaxes like this one were collected on Cook’s visits to New Zealand on all three voyages. Various types of hand clubs and weapons made of wood, bone and stone were the most numerous objects collected on Cook’s voyages.
Quarterstaff in the Hancock Museum

Musical instruments collected and depicted from the Society Islands (Tahiti) on Cook’s voyages include drums, shell trumpets and nose flutes. Cook and his men attended entertainments which included music and dance on a number of occasions in the Society Islands.
Flute in the Hancock Museum

Joseph Banks recorded in his journal:
In my mornings walk today I met a company of travelling musicians; they told me where they should be at night so after supper we all repaired to the place. There was a large concourse of people round this band, which consisted of 2 flutes and three drums.
(Banks, Journal I, 290, 12 June 1769)
Musicians of Tahiti

A large number of ornaments made by the Maori people of New Zealand were collected on Cook’s voyages. These include neck ornaments such as this one, ear ornaments, cloak pins and combs. These are made of a variety of materials, including greenstone, bone, tooth, shell and cordage.
Neck Ornament in the Hancock Museum

Marton | Gt. Ayton | Staithes | Whitby | Newcastle

 

 

Project partners: British Library, North East Libraries and Archives Council, Captain Cook Birthplace Museum



CONTACT DETAILS
All enquiries to Phil_Philo@middlesbrough.gov.uk
or write to:

Captain Cook Birthplace Museum
Stewart Park
Marton
Middlesbrough
TS7 6AS

Tel

01642 311211

Fax 01642 317419

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