Lot Number 129
Year Published
Place Printed
Printed By
Description COLLECTION OF JOURNALS, LETTERS, MANUSCRIPTS AND DRAWINGS, RELATING TO AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND AND SOUTH PACIFIC ISLANDS, COMPRISING: i) Manuscript journal of his expedition on HMS Havannah to Auckland, Whangaroa, the New Hebrides, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Fiji, with daily entries providing detailed descriptions of places and peoples visited, 13 July to 11 November 1850, 186 numbered pages with 5 pages of tables at the end of the volume, 6 loosely inserted leaves containing additional text, with, also loosely inserted, a "list of my stock of trade" for bartering with tribal peoples ("Dolls - Dressed 4s. 0d. - Astonishes the native!"), also listing his acquisitions during the expedition including 20 spears, 11 necklaces, 14 greenstones, and a New Caledonian "mask and hair - [from] Mr Nares", 7 pages, also several lists of sketches, shells, and other items, 12 pages, 4to, marbled boards ii) Sketchbook from the Havannah expedition with c.35 ink, wash, and pencil coastal profiles, views of harbours, beaches and geological features, native Pacific islanders and artefacts (including Solomon Island canoes and his Kanak mask), also including 2 later sketches, 27 pages, plus blanks, stubs, oblong 8vo (140 x 240mm), marbled boards iii) Notebook labelled "South Sea Islands. Australia. NSW. South Australia. 1850" containing c.43 further sketches from the Havannah expedition including additional harbour views, artefacts, portraits of Aboriginal people from New South Wales, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, language notes, sketch maps, diary entries recording Vigors's expedition to the gold country around Bathurst and the Turon River, NSW ("...carried my cradle & shovel to the river spent an hour panning it washed 1/2 a pan ... found exactly 7 dwts 21/ worth!!..."), 30 September to 29 October 1851, with c.12 additional related sketches, the sketches mostly in pencil but some in ink and wash, written from both ends, 93 pages, plus blanks, oblong 16mo (87 x 115mm) iv) "12 Rough Sketches of the New South Wales Gold Diggings" including 5 depicting prospectors on the Turon River around Sofala, ink and wash with pencil annotations, stabstitched, together with 8 loose pencil fair copies, dated 1852, each image 216 x 280mm but on paper of various sizes, also with an accompanying "Description of the drawings", 6 pages v) "Diary of the proceedings of Philip D. Vigors XI. Regt. on board of the Convict Ship Pestongee Bomange During a voyage from Deptford near London to Hobart Town Van Diemens Land commencing August 10th 1848 and ending January 2nd 1849", with coastal profiles and other sketches, 62 pages, 4to, limp green wrappers vi) The Australian Diary and Almanac ... 1849, with daily entries by Vigors when on military service stationed in the penal establishment of Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour, also recording collecting botanical specimens and artefacts ("...I am promised a 'Feegee Island' dress..."), attending cricket matches, theatrical performances, dances, and other recreations, 8vo, boards, spine split with most gatherings loose in the boards vii) About 60 letters by P.D. Vigors to family members, including many journal letters providing a daily account of his life and adventures, including some from the Havannah ("...Vate or Sandwich I. .. 60 or 70 canoes were alongside every day trading ... the men are fair large fellows & chiefs neatly with waist cloths of Tapa or native cloth - I got here some very handsomely carved spears..."), others recording the discovery of gold in New South Wales and his journey to Bathurst ("...I bought a 'dingo' skin gold bag - the correct thing to keep my nuggets in!..."), also discussing his collections including their shipment back to Ireland and other incidents ("...The first thing I heard this morning was the death of my poor 'Emu'..."), family affairs and wider news including the Crimean War, also with four lists of plant, mineral, and animal specimens, some letters apparently incomplete, about 330 pages, 4to and 8vo, 1847-1857 viii) about 74 letters received by P.D. Vigors whilst in Australia, mostly from family members, with family and other news, from Ireland, England, Bangalore, and Western Australia, the majority with original envelopes (lacking stamps), 1849-60, and an issue of The Australian (17 September 1861) ix) Letterbook ("My Letters. Private. 1849 to 1853 Sydney N.S. Wales"), with details of all personal letters received and sent by P.D. Vigors, including a summary of content, 110 pages, brown paper wrappers x) 65 drawings by P.D. Vigors of shells found at Port Essington, an abandoned settlement on Australia's northern coast, 54 hand coloured and 11 in pencil only, 5 pages, together with a head and shoulders ink and wash portrait of a woman, dated 1850, folio, plus blanks, in brown paper wrappers; together with an additional 48 coloured drawings of shells gathered around Sydney dated 1 January 1850, three pages, 4to
Comments An important archive of letters, drawings and journals relating to Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. Philip Doyne Vigors (1825-1903) was a younger son in an Irish Ascendency family who joined the army in 1846 and was stationed in Sydney, New South Wales, from 1849 to 1858. He was an intellectually curious man and his light military duties left him with plenty of opportunities to pursue his interests in natural history and aboriginal cultures. His family had a strong scientific background - his uncle Nicholas Aylward Vigors was one of the founders of the Zoological Society of London - and his writings leave the reader in no doubt that Vigors was inspired by his excitement at the extraordinary landscapes of the Pacific region, and at his exposure to different cultures. During his time in Australia Vigors wrote extensively about his experiences and findings, and put together extensive collections of seeds, minerals, shells, animal specimens, and cultural artefacts. Vigors's papers provide a richly detailed record of his journey to the North Island of New Zealand and various island groups in the South Pacific during a four month period in 1850, when he was on the corvette Havannah as she cruised the Pacific. His detailed journal and numerous sketches are a fascinating record of society and culture in the South Pacific and provide detailed provenance for the tribal artefacts he collected during the trip. This collection included some highly important pieces: the Kanak mask from New Caledonia that Vigors acquired during this trip (recorded and sketched in the current archive) recently sold for 420,750 Euro (Sotheby's, Paris, 14 December 2011, lot 97). Vigors wrote his journal with an eye to future publication, and in 1852 sent a copy to family members to present to publishers. Vigors's hopes of publication were dashed when the Havannah's captain, J.E. Erskine, published his own Journal of a cruise among the islands of the Western Pacific, (Murray, 1853), and his duplicate journal is now at the Turnbull Library in New Zealand. Another extraordinary opportunity for Vigors came with the discovery of gold in New South Wales. He spent a month in the heart of gold country in 1851, during which time he kept a journal, wrote long descriptive letters to family members, and sketched the prospectors on the Turon river (once again with a view to publication). He returned to the region for a second visit in 1853.
Provenance By descent through the family to the present owner
Estimated Price GBP 80,000.00 - 120,000.00
( USD 134,400.00 - 201,600.00 )
Actual Price GBP 97,250.00 ( USD 156,572.50 )



Auction House Sothebys
Auction Name Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History
Sale Number #L12401
Auction Date May 9, 2012 - May 9, 2012
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