2 Catalogue of thePortland Museum..Cook's Pacific voyages 106


Description: Catalogue of the famous Portland Museum, with many objects collected during Cook's Pacific voyages, with manuscript prices and purchasers

A catalogue of the Portland Museum lately the property of the Duchess Dowager of Portland, deceased: which will be sold by auction, by Mr. Skinner and Co. on Monday the 24th of April, 1786, and the thirty-seven following days, ...
A catalogue of a very valuable collection of cameos, intaglios, and precious stones, and other curiosities; being part of a late much celebrated cabinet, many out of the Arundel collection; which will be sold by auction, by Mr. Skinner and Co. on Thursday the 8th of June 1786 ...

[London, Skinner and Co., 1786]. 2 works in 1 volume. 4to. Contemporary vellum, sewn on 3 vellum tapes, laced through the joints, gold-tooled decorated roll on boards, gold fillets on spine, red morocco spine label, marbled endpapers (spot pattern; Wolfe 66). With full-page engraved frontispiece showing the interior of the Portland Museum with numerous objects from its collection. VIII, "194" [= 192]; 6 pp.

The auction catalogue of the celebrated collection of Margaret Bentinck Cavendish (1715-1785), Duchess of Portland, with prices and purchasers (and some additional lots) in manuscript. Prepared by John Lightfoot, the Duchess's librarian, it describes 4156 lots, mostly natural history specimens, but also coins, pictures, china, snuff boxes, books, prints and drawings. The Duchess, a patron of the sciences and one of the wealthiest women in Britain, befriended Joseph Banks and employed the brilliant Daniel Solander to catalogue her collection of shells, aiming to have "every unknown Species described and published to the World" (preface). The sale of her huge collection was held on 38 days from 24 April to 7 June 1786 and included important ethnographical objects and natural history specimens from the Pacific, many collected during James Cook's voyages.
Lot 1372 describes "specimens of the body linen made of bark, of Oeerea, Queen of Otaheite, with some of her Majesty's hair". Other lots includes "a curious feather ornament from New Zealand" (1371), "large and various small specimens of cloth, made of the bark of the cloth tree" (1376) from Tahiti and Hawaii, and "two fine red birds ... from Sandwich Islands - a new species" (1666). The second to last lot describes the famous vase now in the British Museum and known as the "Portland vase", one of the most celebrated cameo-glass vessels from antiquity; it was sold to the Duchess's son, William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland for £1029. Other purchasers include H[orace] Walpole, [Josiah] Wedgwood and other familiar names.
The catalogue was printed in a limited edition, each copy numbered in manuscript on the title-page (the present copy is no. 621). Like the Mitchel copy noted by Forbes, the present copy is bound with a six-page catalogue of "cameos, intaglios, and precious stones, and other curiosities ... many out of the Arundel collection", sold on 8 June 1786, on the premises of the late Duchess of Portland. The Arundel collection was assembled primarily in the 16th century by Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel (1585-1646).
Both catalogues with prices and purchasers for all tems in a single, neat contemporary hand.With a contemporary etched armorial bookplate by Benjamin Way for an unidentified owner (arms incorporating the initials MM) and a late 19th-century engraved armorial bookplate above initials AW. Slight browning, and a few spots on the title-page,but otherwise in very good condition. Binding with boards bowed, splitting the front hinge at head and foot. The catalogue of the famous Portland Museum, with all prices and purchasers.
Ad 1: Beddie 4661; ESTC T28783; Forbes 116; Schuh, Portland 1; ad 2: T13048.
  • Number: 1060727
  • Dealer: Speculum Orbis Nauticum