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An unusual silver mounted cup, made from a coconut shell reputedly used by Captain Bligh when he was set adrift after the mutiny on the Bounty, was sold in our Fine Silver sale on the 30th November 2010 for £3,360.
The deep coconut shell bowl with three carved panels showing a native fisherman, mother and child gathering food, and a cannibalistic campfire scene, stands on a raised foot with the inscription: “Cup used by Capt Bligh in the launch after the Mutiny on HMS 'Bounty”.
The mutiny occurred aboard the British Navy ship HMS Bounty on 28th April 1789, and has been commemorated by several books, films, and popular songs, many of which take considerable liberties with the facts. The mutiny was led by Fletcher Christian against the commanding officer, William Bligh. According to most accounts, the sailors were attracted to the idyllic life on the Pacific island of Tahiti and repelled by the alleged cruelty of their captain.
Eighteen mutineers set Captain Bligh and most of those loyal to him afloat in a small boat. The mutineers then settled with Tahitians they had befriended, some in Tahiti in 1789, others on Pitcairn Island. The Bounty was subsequently burned to avoid detection and to prevent desertion. Descendants of some of the mutineers and Tahitians still live on Pitcairn. After Bligh and his crew of 18 made an epic and eventful journey in the small boat to Timor in the Dutch East Indies, he returned to England and reported the mutiny.
The cup was bought at auction in London in 1934 by Arthur Churchill, a dealer at 10 Dover Street, London, who had bought the piece on commission and it has been passed down by descent to the current owner. It was sold with the original letter and receipt from Arthur Churchill.
This sale follows a long line of nautical items that have been sold at Lyon & Turnbull in the past, including a walking stick made from the spear that killed Captain Cook (£135,000), Captain Cook’s pistol (£35,000) and Admiral Lord Nelson’s letters (£30,000).
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