Superb Country House Collection of Pacific Islands Tribal Interest
A once in a lifetime country house collectors cabinet filled with treasures from Robert Richard Sayer who spent a career serving in the Royal Navy in the first half of the 19th C. In this unprepossessing bank of painted pine drawers is a unique collection, consisting of a drawer of mineral samples, two drawers of shells, several books, and a drawer containing some rare South Sea island treasures, including two fine mother of pearl fishing lures (Society islands), an adze head collected from the Pitcairn islands in 1830, porpoise teeth earrings, and other ear adornments (Marquesas islands) , an envelope containing various locks of hair(4) taken from native girls, including a chiefs daughter from the Marquesas islands, one from the Pitcairn islands and another from Easter island, all dated 1830.
The drawer also contains other artefacts, including Robert Sayer’s named Naval General Service 1793-1840 medal with Java clasp. A large gold pendant frame, which contains a seahorse, and the Lord’s Prayer written in the space of a threepenny bit. A box with various shrapnel, a snuff box, a hand written miniature book etc.
The books consist of three volumes, the largest is a scrap book, typical of the mid 19th century period, filled with prints and other scraps. The second is earlier, dating from the first quarter of the 19th century, and is full of a mixture of pictures and hand written poems, and musings on life, in two or three different hands. Towards the end of the book is a poem entitled “Anticipations of the 20th Century” which someone has later transposed onto a loose sheet of paper. It is an amazing prediction of the future, dated 1829.
The third book covers the naval career of Robert Sayer, from 1806 when he joined the Navy as a midshipman on the Belleisle, to 1836, by which time he had risen to the rank of Captain of the Thetis. It contains hand written copies of various letters detailing his many commissions, as well as other writings and his accounting records. There is also, separately, his commission on vellum, from when he joined the Victory in 1828 as a Lieutenant.
The mineral samples largely have hand written labels, and were collected from Central and South America, as well as various Pacific islands. The shells in the collection are not labelled, but look to have been collected during Sayer’s time in the Pacific region.