Captain James Cook cloth specimens realise 82% increase on estimate

A catalogue of tapa cloth specimens collected by Captain James Cook (1728-1779) on his voyages through the Pacific Islands has made £182,000 ($303,205) at Sotheby's

The lot was valued at £70,000-100,000 ($113,995-162,850) ahead of the exploration-themed auction in London, equating to an increase of 82% on its high estimate.

Around 45 copies of the book, published by Alexander Shaw (whose connection to Cook is unknown), were produced in 1787.

tapa cloth specimens Sotheby's
The tapa cloth specimens were created on islands across the Pacific

Tapa cloth is made from bark and its production is widespread across the Pacific region. The samples in the book feature a range of colours and patterns, and were collected from various islands.

A map of the southern and Pacific Oceans produced by Captain Cook and naturalist Joseph Banks - who accompanied Cook on his first expedition - sold for £134,500 ($223,458).

The lot is one of only three copies known to exist; the other two are held in permanent museum collections. It was the first map to depict the entirety of Australia and New Zealand.

Banks commissioned the map in 1772 in preparation for Cook's second great voyage, but was denied permission to sail following a row with the admiralty.

The majority of the charts were destroyed or mislaid, making the tiny number that survive today exceptionally valuable.

We have this lock of hair from decorated British naval officer Admiral Horatio Nelson for sale.

Sign up here for our free newsletter to keep up to date with the latest on books and manuscripts.

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£65,000
In stock