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Published 7th Jun 2018

The 18th Century japanned tea tray features a depiction of the legendary explorer’s death painted by Edward Bird RA.

A fund-raising appeal is being launched to acquire a rare Captain Cook artefact for Middlesbrough.

The 18th Century japanned tea tray features a depiction of the legendary explorer’s death painted by Edward Bird RA.

It’s now on sale – and the Cook Birthplace Trust is appealing for donations to help it meet the £34,500 asking price to return it to its former home.

The tray – a rendering of George Carter’s 1781 painting of the scene - dates from the 1790s and was presented to Middlesbrough funding father Henry Bolckow in the 1850s or 1860s.

The wealthy industrialist, who became Middlesbrough’s first Mayor and Member of Parliament, built Marton Hall at Stewart Park, site of Cook’s birth, in 1856.

Bolckow amassed one of the finest Cook collections ever assembled, including Cook’s original manuscript journal of the Endeavour voyage along with the Admiralty’s secret instructions.

Following his death, the collection was sold with the death scene tray eventually finding its way into one of Australia’s most significant private collections of Captain Cook material which has now been put up for sale.

Councillor Tom Mawston, Chair of the Cook Birthplace Trust, said: “2018 marks the 250th anniversary of the first of James Cook’s three famous voyages to the Pacific.

“There remains huge local pride in the achievements of a man who pushed back the boundaries of the known world, and we are determined to develop and expand our celebration of one of history’s towering figures.

“This tray was painted just a few years after Cook’s death, and fittingly found its way into the collection of one of Middlesbrough’s founding fathers.

“It would be fantastic if we were able to return it to the site of his birth for future visitors to enjoy – I would urge anyone with any interest in our local heritage and history to help us reach our fund-raising target.”

Donations can also be made direct to the Cook Birthplace Trust via account number 9458648 and sort code 54-10-04, quoting ref. Cook Trust.



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