Beads of the Mutinous HMS BOUNTY
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Posted by: Karlis Post Reply
06/12/2017, 13:49:04

A recent visitor to the SBR website inquired about the beads found on the wreck of the HMS BOUNTY, the ship taken over by Fletcher Christian from Capt. Bligh and then burned at Pitcairn Island. An Internet search revealed several beads from the BOUNTY wreck had been offered by two auction houses earlier this year. They all look very similar to beads commonly called Dogon or Dutch in the Africa trade. An interesting historic group of beads.

The ones offered by Bonhams (image attached) were subsequently withdrawn . Their description as follows:

Four blue glass trading beads salvaged from the wreck of the HMS Bounty, 13mm. diameter and smaller

RARE RELICS FROM HMS BOUNTY. Discovered by a National Geographic Society diver inside a glass vase at the wreck site, these decorative trade beads were used by the crew of the Bounty as currency to exchange for goods and services on their voyage to transport breadfruit plants from Tahiti. The mutineers, under the leadership of Fletcher Christian, landed on Pitcairn Island on 15 January 1790 after having taken the Bounty from Captain Bligh and cast him adrift in the ship's launch. The remoteness of the island and its abundance of natural resources proved an ideal place to make a permanent settlement. To prevent the mutineers escaping, the Bounty was destroyed by fire on 23 January, after having been stripped of everything that might be useful to the settlers. Luis Marden describes the discovery of the wreck and his time on Pitcairn Island in 'I found the Bones of the Bounty', National Geographic Magazine, December 1957, vol. CXII, no. 6, pp.725-789.

PROVENANCE: Luis Marden, recovered from the wreck site in Bounty Bay, Pitcairn Island in January 1957; thence private collection from which acquired by the present owner.

A single bead offered by PBA Galleries sold for $1,200:

Blue glass spherical trade bead, approximately 1 cm in diameter. Secured in a recessed mounting, attractively matted and framed along with a color print illustrating the H.M.S. Bounty and a descriptive plaque. Overall 27x49.5 cm (10x19").

Recovered from the H.M.S. Bounty wreck site by National Geographic Society diver and explorer Luis Marden along with other artifacts that had sunk with the Bounty when she was burned by a band of mutineers led by Master's Mate, Fletcher Christian in January of 1790. This bead is one of a small number found, all of which were acquired from Marden by noted Bounty collector Tony Probst. Eight of the beads were later traded by Probst to our consignor, letters from both Probst and our consignor accompany the lot.

Bounty_beads.jpg (18.0 KB)  

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