The 43 lots, many of them stored together in a box for more than a century, attracted bidding from six museums at Sloane Street Auctions on April 12.
The sale total for the collection was close to £190,000.
Daniel Hunt, a dealer and gallery owner for over 30 years before launching an auction business in SW1 last year, was shown the cache of artefacts during a valuation in the West Country. He described it as “goose bumps stuff”.
As a young man Grindall had sailed on Captain James Cook’s Second Voyage aboard HMS Resolution from 1772-75. The expedition, commissioned by the British government with advice from the Royal Society, was designed to circumnavigate the globe as far south as possible and find out whether any great southern landmass, or Terra Australis, did exist. Grindall later went on to have a distinguished career in the Royal Navy, commanding the St Vincent, a captured Spanish sloop of 14 guns, from 1781-83 and HMS Prince at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. He retired in 1810 after making the rank of vice admiral.
The sale included both his late 18th century compass (£6000) and his portrait miniature inscribed Painted by Stephen Taylor at Andover 1808 (£4500). However, of most interest were the ethnographic and natural history objects Grindall had collected while aboard the Resolution.
These ranged from two cowrie shells (sold for £1000 each) to a series of 18th century Oceanic tribal objects admired for their quality and condition. Stored for many years, the presence of original bindings to fishing hooks and personal adornments was of particular interest to many connoisseurs.
A Maori nephrite jade ear ornament (tangiwai) or pendant (kuru) with a leather loop, similar to another in the Museum of Australia’s James Cook Collection, brought £20,000, while bids of £17,000 and £14,000 respectively were taken for a Tahitian abalone fishhook and line and a three-spindled hair-piece with woven thong from New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Museums and private collectors from France, New Zealand, England, Australia and Hawaii were among the purchasers.
Resolution at anchor
Leading the sale at £32,000 (estimate £10,000-20,000) was a 4 x 3in (10 x 7cm) drawing with watercolour highlights of the Resolution at anchor. Attributed to Henry Roberts (1756-96), the ship’s officer on board, it was probably sketched off the coast of Tahiti between August 16-24, 1773.
An inscription verso includes the names Forster Matara, Hodges Oreo, Grindall Terino, Sparrman Pamanee, George Teoree. These were the monikers given to members of the crew by the native Tahitians who had been unable to pronounce English names. A second 2in (5cm) drawing of the ship attributed to William Hodges (1744-97) came with an associated note reading My dear husband went round the world in the 2nd Voyage that Cap Cooke went. It took £12,000. A buyer’s premium of 25% was charged.