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Cook-Forster Collection: Pacific cultural heritage

by Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin and Gundolf Krüger

After more than 200 years, the world’s largest collection of artefacts assembled during the three voyages of James Cook (1768–1771, 1772–1775, 1776–1779/80) has travelled back to the Southern Hemisphere where most of the items were made, used and finally traded to crew members of ships of the British Admiralty. Fundamental changes in the South Seas, as well as in Europe, have taken place since Cook and his crews visited the islands of the Pacific (many for the first time). Exploration of the Pacific — an endeavour with primarily scientific goals — had unpredicted consequences for many of the peoples ‘discovered’ in the course of the voyages: illness, suffering and European colonisation. After long, painful decades and even centuries of oppression, growing claims of self-determination across the Pacific in the twentieth century resulted in the realisation of cultural and political autonomy. Today, when television stations nightly broadcast views of the globe from satellites, the geographic world view of eighteenth-century Europeans is difficult to comprehend. For those living in Cook’s time, the world map was full of blank spots. Thanks to his and other explorers’ detailed cartography, subsequent navigators were provided with reliable information about islands, reefs, currents and winds in parts of the world that, for them, had been clouded with mysteries — mysteries such as the tale of a huge southern continent, Terra Australis Incognita — which were resolved as these voyagers investigated regions never before visited by Europeans.

Fishhooks installation
Cook's Pacific Encounters exhibition, National Museum of Australia, 2006. Photo: George Serras.

When we look at the beautifully preserved artefacts in Cook’s Pacific Encounters, we can ponder the changes that have taken place in the world over the past two centuries. The seemingly unchanging character of the artefacts suggests a journey back in time. Indeed, for the two German scholars, Johann Reinhold Forster (1729–1798) and his son Georg (1754–1794), commissioned as natural historians on Cook’s second voyage, the journey was like a trip back in time. Educated in the spirit of the Enlightenment, they compared Pacific cultures to those of ancient Greece, and contrasted them with a European society they considered degenerate in many respects. The dream of a harmonious and paradisaical life in the Pacific has subsequently inspired generations of European travellers and artists. It still exists, although mostly confined to travel brochures and soap operas.

Johann Reinhold Forster, eager to learn about the language and culture of the people he met, established the first comparative word list that contained dozens of Pacific languages.1 He was able to prove that these languages were all interrelated, and that long before European arrival, the inhabitants of many islands must have been in contact with each other. Forster laid the basis for our understanding of what today are called the ‘Austronesian languages’, a huge language family that extends from Easter Island (Rapa Nui) to Madagascar, including most parts of South-East Asia.

First encounters

The Göttingen Cook–Forster collection documents Pacific cultures — mainly of Austronesian origin — in the 1700s, untouched by European influence. As a consequence of contact with European explorers, Pacific islanders immediately replaced stone blades with iron in their tools for working wood. Other introduced materials, such as fibres and textiles, beads, glass, metal and colours, were adopted for decorations. Yet the Göttingen artefacts are without traces of such imported material.

The wide range of the artefacts in the Göttingen collection can be classified into several broad categories. There are objects of adornment, clothing, mats, baskets and fans, tools, weapons and ornaments of war, fishing and hunting equipment, musical instruments and objects of recreation, household implements, symbols of social status and devotional items. These artefacts were collected from Tahiti, Tonga, Hawaii, the Marquesas Islands and New Zealand (Aotearoa) in Polynesia, from New Caledonia and Vanuatu in Melanesia, and from the South and North American Pacific coasts (for example Tierra del Fuego and Alaska). Many of these objects are no longer made today, and as such remain highly significant to their places of origin. The Smithsonian Institution’s Pacific studies expert, Adrienne Kaeppler, writes that the artefacts are ‘treasured as part of cultural heritage. Research on the collections from Cook’s voyages makes information available for the advancement of science, as well as contributing to cultural and ethnic identity’.2

The most outstanding items in the collection come from Tahiti (the Society Islands), Hawaii and Tonga. All of them testify to the richness of cultural expression and social complexity in these communities: the Tahitian mourning dress, the Hawaiian feather images of the war god Kuka‘ilimoku, and the exquisite mats and barkcloth from Tonga. All come from societies described by Kaeppler as classical Polynesian chiefdoms. The society of Tahiti:

was highly stratified and rank, status, power, and prestige were linked to genealogical descent and kinship connections through both the mother and the father. Individuals were born to their social positions. Ari‘i, high chiefs, were the first-born of the first-born. Ari‘i, ra‘atira (lesser chiefs), and manahune (commoners) were part of a complex web of rights and obligations derived from their relationships to each other, the ancestors, and the gods. Much of the Society Islands collection in the Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology in Göttingen is representative of the aristocratic strata of this traditional chiefdom. Especially important is the mourning dress, worn by the ‘chief mourner’ at the funeral of a chief in the Society Islands, along with the pearl shell clappers that were used to announce the approach of the chief mourner.3

Furthermore, the collection includes:

four taumi, which are often called breast ornaments or gorgets but were also worn on the shoulders as illustrated by Sydney Parkinson during Cook’s first voyage. The Göttingen example … is especially beautiful, complete with its feather tufts, dog-hair tassels, and shark tooth decorations.4

In most cases we do not know who exactly collected the artefacts. On Cook’s ships were high-ranking officers who, as representatives of the Admiralty, were responsible for the voyages in general. But the parties brought together on the large ships also included scholars and their assistants, medical doctors, artists (mainly painters and draftsmen), craftsmen who specialised in different crafts, cooks, marines, workmen and crew-members originating from different countries. Most of these men were in one way or another engaged in collecting natural and artificial curiosities. On the second voyage Johann Reinhold Forster, the leading natural historian on board, was accompanied by his multitalented 17-year-old son Georg, who had joined his father on an earlier expedition to the lower Volga in Russia when he was only 11. The Forsters were among the very few men who apparently collected systematically, though what they gathered were mostly pieces related to their main interest, natural history. Among the most prominent collections they assembled during the second voyage was the herbarium, a systematic collection of 600–700 rare botanic specimens. This herbarium is still cared for in Göttingen today. Forster and his son carefully registered their acquisitions, including the ethnographic ones, in their journal. Both were also keen observers, interested in social and cultural questions and therefore also in artefacts of which they often gave detailed descriptions in situ.

The contexts in which collecting activities were carried out by people of unequal standing, and with various functions on board the ships, differed considerably. First of all, it is important to remember that collecting was not the main emphasis of these missions, nor the prime focus of interactions with the local people on various islands. Ships’ captains distributed generally trivial European curiosities such as glass beads, buttons, mirrors, nails and pins, to establish friendly relationships with the inhabitants of the Pacific islands.5 The gift-giving was a means to an end, one vital for the survival of the travellers: to replenish the ship’s supplies of drinking water, fresh food (living animals, fruits, unprocessed staple food) and firewood. However, Cook and his companions soon found that the value and meaning of these gifts to islanders had the opposite effect to what was intended. They noticed that most of the local people with whom they tried to establish barter for supplies actually preferred to give handicrafts instead of food. It is difficult to say whether European handicrafts, such as mirrors, nails or beads were, according to local expectations, to be reciprocated primarily by handicrafts, or whether the production of food was a matter of self-sufficiency or allowed to be given away only within restricted social contexts. Yet since many islanders offered examples of their own handicrafts in exchange for those of the Europeans, barter of such objects seems to have developed immediately.

Documenting a world beyond Europe

Much of the material proof of these encounters between Europeans and Pacific islanders gradually found its way to Göttingen, an old university town now belonging to the German state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen), with its capital Hanover. Many visitors are surprised to learn that this excellently preserved collection, which survived revolutions and two world wars, is housed in an unspectacular and rather neglected university building. Only once a week, on Sundays, does the public have access to this and all the other ethnographic collections in Göttingen, several of them also of outstanding quality and uniqueness. However, there are plans in place for more appropriate housing.

There are several reasons why such rich and unique collections dating back to the eighteenth century are to be found in Göttingen. They relate firstly to the origins of the university; secondly, to open-minded, innovative scholars, and political arrangements; and thirdly, to the Royal House of Hanover and its links with the English throne.

The Georg-August University of Göttingen, founded in 1734 and inaugurated in 1737, was one of the earliest reformist universities in Europe, explicitly committed to the ideas of the Enlightenment. There was, above all, an insistence on rationalism and empiricism, and a rejection of dogmatism of any kind. It was an era when scholars were no longer inclined to believe in fantasies and miraculous stories handed down from one generation to the next. Instead, they looked for proofs of hypotheses: they tried to understand what they investigated from a truly holistic perspective. At the University of Göttingen there existed a circle of open-minded scholars from various backgrounds, all interested in learning about the world beyond Europe. During their meetings, they regularly read and discussed travel literature of the day. These accounts were an important source of knowledge, yet insufficient in themselves. The Göttingen scholars also needed material ‘proofs’ — what were called ‘natural and artificial curiosities’. At the time, these terms had a different meaning from that generally understood today. ‘Curiosities’ meant ‘objects of rare interest’, and ‘artificial’ simply meant ‘man-made’. In this sense, the scholars were looking for materials from the newly discovered islands of the Pacific that physically demonstrated new ideas about the world. They used these artefacts for teaching and research purposes, and it is therefore not surprising that the terms Völkerkunde (ethnology, or anthropology) and Ethnographie (ethnography) were coined in Göttingen during this period; these terms were published for the first time — simultaneously — by the historian AL Schlözer and his colleague JC Gatterer in 1771.6

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752–1840) was one of the most innovative and influential scholars of the age. It was Blumenbach who managed, over the course of many years, to assemble what is now called the Cook–Forster collection. In 1773, he succeeded in establishing the Academic Museum — intended as a modern university research and teaching institution — to house anatomical, geological, historical, natural and cultural collections. Blumenbach completed a dissertation, ‘De generis humani varietate nativa’, in 1775, which was published the following year. In his dissertation, Blumenbach, who only a year later became professor of medicine and sub-inspector of the university cabinet, analysed diverse peoples (Menschenvarietäten), all of which he saw as belonging equally to one and the same species.7 Following the biological classification system, Systema Naturae, developed by the Swedish natural scientist Carolus Linnaeus (1707–1778), Blumenbach came to understand human development within the broader range of animal speciation. In contrast to many of his contemporaries, he insisted that ‘Europeans, Negroes and others’ are all ‘true humans’ and ‘mere varieties (Spielarten) of one and the same species’.8 He contradicted those who maintained that humans could be classified into lower and higher races and emphasised the arbitrariness of any attempt to draw boundaries between races. As a medical doctor and natural historian, Blumenbach made use of the newly established science of anatomy. He argued that analysis of human skulls from different parts of the world proved ‘the unbounded transition’ between specimens considered to represent incompatible opposites.9

Blumenbach was not only inspired by the Zeitgeist, he was at the same time one of those influential personalities who helped define the character of the Enlightenment. He was in contact with Sir Joseph Banks (1743–1820), the renowned member and later president of the Royal Society in London. Banks was the natural scientist who accompanied James Cook on his first voyage (1768–1771), and who was primarily responsible for the ground-breaking botanical work of the expedition. He later wrote the introduction to the third edition (1795) of Blumenbach’s dissertation. Banks was, according to Kaeppler, probably the greatest collector of ‘artificial curiosities’ on the Endeavour voyage.10 The earliest artefacts from the South Seas to reach Göttingen most likely came from Banks, and their acquisition may have been due to the personal relationship between the two scientists.11

The collection of artefacts (Ethnographica) from scientific expeditions thus played a central role in Blumenbach’s life: each item brought back from major journeys served the scholars of his time. They were regarded as objects for the study of civilisations, primarily through a consideration of their material cultures. Following Georges Buffon’s (1707–1788) natural historical descriptive method, such ‘cultural documents’ were interpreted with the help of the ships’ logs of explorers, in conjunction with information on climate and the physical environment.

The initiation of contacts lasting over a long period of time with influential researchers of the natural world, such as Banks, bore rich fruit. It also represented Blumenbach’s many interests on the one hand, and his strong penchant to collect on the other. Banks’s connection proved very useful: Blumenbach became a generous donor to the Göttingen Museum, especially in donating numerous portraits of people from non-European cultures. For Europeans, Blumenbach also proved a helpful facilitator of contacts with England.12

Royal connections

Not only Blumenbach but the whole Göttingen circle had excellent international contacts with other scholars. The political situation favoured such contacts. In 1714, members of the house of Hanover had acceded to the British throne, uniting the electorate (Kurfürstentum of Hanover, to which Göttingen belonged, with the island realm of Britain. King George II was also the founder of the University of Göttingen.

It was these royal connections between Hanover and the British Crown — specifically King George III — that Blumenbach exploited in 1781 in order to receive a share of what he called ‘the surplus of foreign natural curiosities’.13 On 27 August 1781, a year after the end of Cook’s third voyage, Blumenbach appealed to the authorities responsible for the University of Göttingen, the ‘Most Highly Decreed Privy Councillors of Great Britain’s Royal Government’, in Hanover:

Your esteemed excellencies will forgive the most indebted attention, whereby I am obliged to facilitate all the further receptions of the academic Museum, which through your graceful providence has already prospered to such an admirable size and completeness, when I dare to propose humbly to the same: whether your gracious foreword to Your Royal Majesty could not perhaps acquire something of the surplus of foreign natural curiosities, which in particular have been collected in large quantities on the recently completed voyages around the world on Your Majesty’s command? The all-round advancement of natural knowledge, which through such a regal gift could also be conveyed to the local university; and the exclusive advantage that the academic museum would also have over similar institutions in Germany as a result, makes me hope all the more, that your esteemed excellencies will not consider this humble presentation ungraciously: I who have the grace to remain in deepest reverence all my life …

Joh. Friedr. Blumenbach.14

This appeal was forwarded to George III, who was also Elector of Hanover. One month later, the King decreed positively to the Hanoverian privy councillors:

Dear subjects! The opportunity has been found to bring together at this place a collection of rarities from the newly discovered islands of the South Sea, and We have granted that such be purchased for the Göttingen Museum. The actual price of such ... shall not exceed one hundred pounds sterling inclusive of embalming [that is, packing] and transport costs to Bremen ...

In Rescriptio St. James,
the 14th of December 1781
George R.15

Several prominent people were involved in this acquisition. An important intermediary function was played by the King’s Privy Counsellor Christian Heinrich von Hinüber (1723–1792), a German and alumnus of the University of Göttingen,16 who had been in the service of the Court in London for over 20 years.17 Shortly thereafter, on 21 December, von Hinüber informed Blumenbach:

that a collection of natural and artificial items from the newly-discovered islands of the South Seas will be made and sent to the museum there. I have been able to bring this about earlier than I could have hoped for, and it is so comprehensive that it can have no equal outside of England, perhaps only in France, and certainly not in all of Germany.18

Von Hinüber seems to have assembled the collection for the Göttingen Academic Museum from a variety of sources, including a number of art dealers. A considerable amount apparently originated from the sale (forced by his creditors) of the private collection of George Humphrey, an art dealer who, as Kaeppler wrote, ‘simply went to the Resolution [ship on the second voyage] when it docked and bought whatever he could from whomever he could’. Humphrey did the same after the third voyage.19 He was not primarily interested in ethnographic artefacts but in seashells. Apart from direct purchases from the ships, Humphrey subsequently also bought artefacts that had already been in the possession of collectors and probably dealers as well. The artefacts von Hinüber obtained from Humphrey were carefully listed in a catalogue that accompanied the collection.

Six months later, on 15 July 1782, Blumenbach finally acknowledged receipt of the collection. It consisted of ‘349 Numbers, various of which however include several items’.20

Forster’s legacy

Among the ethnographic objects that had already arrived in Göttingen before the end of Cook’s last South Seas expedition (1776–1779/1780) were two shipments of gifts described as coming from the first Cook expedition. These objects may have come to Göttingen through Banks. They included samples of bark fibre cloth from Tahiti. According to the archives, a ‘sample of a poor sort of material’ had been sent by Johann Reinhold Forster.

Georg Forster, who in 1780 secured a position for his father as professor of natural history in Halle, Germany — a position he held to the end of his life in 1798 — was the first family member to move from England to Germany, having become a professor at the Collegium Carolinum, a knights’ academy in Kassel. From here, the younger Forster frequently visited Göttingen, starting in 1778, especially in order to use the superbly stocked library. In particular, his contact with the Göttingen orientalist Johann David Michaelis, facilitated by his father, led to Michaelis’s daughter Caroline and her friend Therese Heyne (later to become Georg Forster’s wife) being surprised with visitor’s gifts from the South Seas. These consisted of tree-bark cloth from Tahiti. Caroline Michaelis had a ball gown ‘à la Bergère with blue sashes’ 21 made of it. Actual examples of these South Seas presents are no longer to be found. They may at some time have simply gone missing from the private property of the scholars. Blumenbach eventually did obtain some ethnographic materials from Georg Forster’s collection in 1781: an ‘exquisitely daedally plaited basket from Toncatabu in the South Seas’, a ‘New Caledonian slingstone from Lavezzi’, as well as a ‘complete collection of Tahitian items’.22 A stone brought back from New Caledonia that belongs to a sling is still documented in the university’s ethnographic collection. Similarly, the tree-bark cloth from Tahiti that Blumenbach had in part cut as samples, and which has no specific assured provenance, may in fact be the fabric in the ethnographic collection and in effect considered a ‘nameless’ constituent of the Cook–Forster collection. The basket listed as being from Tonga might be among the wickerwork lauded for its quality by the famous German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe after a visit to the Academic Museum in 1801: ‘Thereupon to the museum, the products of the peoples of the South Sea Islands. Everything especially pretty’.23

Besides these single objects acquired for Göttingen, the Cook collection sent on behalf of George III comprised the core of the ethnographic department holdings of the Academic Museum from 1783. The value of this shipment, designated in the Göttingen Institute archive as a ‘regal gift’, totalled 105 pounds sterling, equivalent at the time to about 560 Reichstaler in Hanoverian currency. This was more than twice the yearly income of a Göttingen professor.24 The collection was completed in September 1782 by the ‘acquisition of an entire mourning habit’ from Tahiti. In his published diary, Georg Forster especially noted that this ‘complete mourning dress’ was a highlight of the Academic Museum.25

After the ‘regal gift’ of 1782, the title of the Cook collection was eventually expanded to include the German name Forster when in 1799 the South Seas Nachlass (estate) of Johann Reinhold Forster, consisting of 160 artefacts, was acquired. The elder Forster had emigrated to Halle, Germany, in 1780, after his debts in England had been cleared.26 Of the truly large private collections the two Forsters collected during the second voyage, most of the artefacts later wound up in the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. The Forsters also sold many individual items throughout Europe, in part out of financial necessity but also in the hope of gaining social and economically advantageous connections to people who bought their objects for reasons of prestige.27

A large corpus, however, remained in Johann Forster’s hands until his death in 1798, and it was this collection which was acquired by Göttingen.

Scientific responsibility from the past to the present

Hence, by the nineteenth century, the University of Göttingen had come into possession of a South Seas ethnographic collection encompassing some 500 artefacts, recognised by Blumenbach as exceedingly valuable ‘for the study of mankind and of ethnography’.28 In his lectures on comparative Völkerkunde, Blumenbach — in contrast to other professors — gave a prominent role to artefacts and to his own drawings of ethnographic objects.

Indeed, the use of ethnographic objects in university instruction was expanded later by Arnold Hermann Ludwig Heeren (1760–1842), who regularly held lectures called ‘General regional geography and ethnography’. Commencing in 1803, these lectures were normally illustrated ‘as far as the clothing, weapons, tools that people of far-away places were concerned, through the ethnographic collection in the Royal Museum’.29 Heeren’s course was considered a favourite of students and was, in terms of its ethnographic focus, without peer at that time in Germany. Johann Peter Eckermann, a confidante of Goethe, studied in Göttingen and emphasised the scientific motivation that he got from Heeren’s ethnographic presentations:

What now significantly encouraged me in my first year in achieving my immediate goals was Heeren. His ‘Ethnography’ and ‘History’ gave me the best foundation for further studies of this kind; what’s more the clarity and solidarity of his presentations also in other respects were eminently useful for me. I attended every hour with love and left not a one without being steeped in a greater regard and affinity for this excellent man.30

The South Seas collection at Göttingen, along with the thousand or so artefacts from other regions, fell into temporary oblivion when the Academic Museum was disbanded on Blumenbach’s death. The objects were stored in one place or another, and only nominally added to and overseen by staff from various disciplines in a provisional way. Moreover, the Cook–Forster collection even registered its first ‘losses’ a short while later. An entry in a somewhat inexact registry book of the Vereinsmuseum in Hanover (now the state museum of Lower Saxony) sometime toward the end of the nineteenth century, shows 55 ethnographic items registered, of which about 30 were confirmed in 1998 as having come from the Cook–Forster collection. From the records in Göttingen, we now know that at the request of His Royal Highness King George V of Hanover in 1853, ‘duplicates of ethnographic objects’ were handed over for the ‘newly founded Museo’. However, the valuable ethnographic treasures of the University of Göttingen were never totally forgotten. There remained various individuals at the university, in particular the curator Justus Theodor Valentiner (1869–1952), who maintained interest in the old ethnographic objects, first and foremost those of the Cook–Forster collection. These individuals were responsible for a chair in ethnology being established in 1934, 200 years after the founding of the university. It was first occupied by the ethnologist Hans Plischke (1890–1972), who had obtained his doctorate at the University of Leipzig. In 1935–1936, the institute and the ethnographic collection were established in a building of their own on the Theaterplatz, a home they occupy to this day:

So after a long time there was a setting-up and exhibiting of the holdings ... The treasures that had been stored for many years could now be employed not just as objects for research and instruction, but also employed in public relations work.31

In spite of two world wars and their devastating consequences, the collection represents a cultural legacy that has survived to the present in admirable condition. Together with the library and associated collections of documents and pictures, the ethnographic collection is today (with its South Seas holdings that have become famous within the field) a highly valued part of the Scientific Cultural Archive at the Göttingen Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology.

Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin is Director of the Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology, Georg-August University of Göttingen. Gundolf Krüger is Senior Instructor at the Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology and Curator of the ethnographic collection, Georg-August University of Göttingen

References

Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich, De generis humani varietate nativa (1775) 1795.

Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich, Abbildungen naturhistorischer Gegenstände, Heinrich Dieterich, Göttingen, 1797.

Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich, Beträge zur Naturgeschichte, Heinrich Dieterich, Göttingen, 1806.

Chamisso, Reise um die Welt: Sämtliche Werke in vier Bänden, Gustav Fock-Verlag, Leipzig, n.d.

Eckermann, Johann Peter, Gespräche mit Goethe in den letzten Jahren seines Lebens, Sonderausgabe der Insel-Bücherei, Leipzig, n.d.

Forster, Georg, A Voyage round the World, Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR, Berlin (1777), 1986.

Forster, Georg, Reise um die Welt, Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR, Berlin (1777), 1989.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, Tagebücher, 1801–1808, in Goethes Werke, herausgegeben im Auftrag der Großherzogin Sophie von Sachsen, vol. 3, Herrmann Böhlau, Weimar, 1889.

Göttingische Anzeigen von gelehrten Sachen, Göttingen, 1803.

Hoare, Michael E (ed.), The Resolution Journal of Johann Reinhold Forster 1772–1775 (vols I–IV), The Hakluyt Society, London, 1982.

Kaeppler, Adrienne, Artificial Curiosities: An Exposition of Native Manufactures Collected on the Three Pacific Voyages of Captain James Cook, RN, Bernice P Bishop Museum Special Publication 65, Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, 1978.

Kaeppler, Adrienne, ‘Genealogy and disrespect: A study of symbolism in Hawaiian images’, Res, 3, 1982, pp. 82–107.

Kaeppler, Adrienne, ‘The Göttingen collection in an international context’/Die Göttinger Sammlung im internationalen Kontext, in James Cook: Gifts and Treasures from the South Seas/Gaben und Schätze aus der Südsee, ed. by Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin and Gundolf Krüger, Prestel, München, New York, 1998, pp. 86–93.

Kaeppler, Adrienne, ‘Life in the Pacific in the 1700s and today’, in Life in the Pacific in the 1700s: The Cook–Forster Collection of the Georg-August University of Göttingen, 3 vols, vol. 2, European Research, Traditions, and Perspectives, ed. by Stephen Little and Peter Ruthenberg, co-ed. by Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin and Gundolf Krüger, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, 2006.

Nawa, Christine, ‘Sammeln für die Wissenschaft? Das Academische Museum Göttingen (1773–1840)’, unpublished Magisterarbeit, Faculty of Philosophy, Georg-August University of Göttingen, 2005.

Uhlig, Ludwig, Georg Forster: Lebensabenteuer eines gelehrten Weltbürgers, Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 2004.

Urban, Manfred, ‘Cook’s voyages and the European discovery of the South Seas’/Cooks Reisen und die europäische Entdeckung der Südsee in James Cook: Gifts and Treasures from the South Seas/Gaben und Schätze aus der Südsee, ed. by Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin and Gundolf Krüger, 1998, Prestel, München, New York, pp. 30–56.

Urban, Manfred, ‘The acquisition history of the Göttingen collection’/Die Erwerbungsgeschichte der Göttinger Sammlung‚ in James Cook: Gifts and Treasures from the South Seas/Gaben und Schätze aus der Südsee, ed. by Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin and Gundolf Krüger, Prestel, München, New York, 1998, pp. 56–86.

Urban, Manfred, ‘Die völkerkundliche Sammlung: Eine im Zeitalter der Aufklärung wurzelnde ethnographische Sammlung: Ihre Entstehug und weitere Entwicklung’‚ in ‘Ganz für das Studium angelegt’: Die Museen, Sammlungen und Gärten der Universität, ed. by Dietrich Hoffmann and Kathrin Maack-Rheinländer,Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen, 2001, pp. 91–98.

Vermeulen, Han F, ‘Origins and institutionalization of ethnography and ethnology in Europe and the USA, 1771–1845’, in Fieldwork and Footnotes: Studies in the History of European Anthropology, ed. by Han F Vermeulen and Arturo Alvarez Roldán, Routledge, London, New York, 1995, pp. 39–59.

Archives

Family archive of Hartmut v. Hinüber, Burgdorf/Germany.

Georg-August University of Göttingen archive A 4Vg/9.

Institute archive of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the Georg-August University of Göttingen: Blumenbach file.

Endnotes

1 Michael E Hoare (ed.), The Resolution Journal of Johann Reinhold Forster 1772–1775 (vols I–IV), The Hakluyt Society, London, 1982, vol. I, fig. 5.

2 Adrienne Kaeppler, ‘The Göttingen collection in an international context’/Die Göttinger Sammlung im internationalen Kontext, in James Cook: Gifts and Treasures from the South Seas/Gaben und Schätze aus der Südsee, ed. by Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin and Gundolf Krüger, Prestel, München, New York, 1998, pp. 86–93 (p. 93).

3 Adrienne Kaeppler, ‘Life in the Pacific in the 1700s and today’, in Life in the Pacific in the 1700s: The Cook–Forster Collection of the Georg August-University of Göttingen, 3 vols, vol. 2, European Research, Traditions, and Perspectives, ed. by Stephen Little and Peter Ruthenberg, co-ed. by Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin and Gundolf Krüger, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, 2006, p. 9.

4 Kaeppler, ‘Life in the Pacific in the 1700s and today’, p. 9.

5 These ‘curiosities’ were seen as trumpery and tinsel from the perspective of critical European contemporaries such as, for example, the French philosopher Diderot.

6 Han F Vermeulen, ‘Origins and institutionalization of ethnography and ethnology in Europe and the USA, 1771–1845’, in Fieldwork and Footnotes: Studies in the History of European Anthropology, ed. by Han F Vermeulen and Arturo Alvarez Roldán, Routledge, London, New York, 1995, pp. 39–59.

7 Manfred Urban, ‘The acquisition history of the Göttingen collection’/Die Erwerbungsgeschichte der Göttinger Sammlung‚ in James Cook: Gifts and Treasures from the South Seas/Gaben und Schätze aus der Südsee, ed. by Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin and Gundolf Krüger, Prestel, München, New York, 1998, pp. 56–86, (pp. 56–57).

8 Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, Beträge zur Naturgeschichte, Heinrich Dieterich, Göttingen, 1806, p. 50.

9 Blumenbach, Beträge zur Naturgeschichte, pp. 68–69.

10 Adrienne Kaeppler, Artificial Curiosities: An Exposition of Native Manufactures Collected on the Three Pacific Voyages of Captain James Cook, RN, Bernice P Bishop Museum Special Publication 65, Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu, 1978, p. 40.

11 The significance of Banks’s contribution was also emphasised by German poet and naturalist Adalbert von Chamisso (1781–1838), a member of the Russian South Seas expedition of 1815–1818. Von Chamisso corresponded with Blumenbach and visited the Academic Museum in Göttingen to conduct research. In his Reise um die Welt, von Chamisso expressed his pleasure at having personally shaken the hands of ‘three of the leading men of the old times, including besides the then very important King Kamehameha I of Hawaii and the Marquis de Lafayette, known as a resolute opponent of slavery, explicitly Banks’ (Chamisso, Reise um die Welt: Sämtliche Werke in vier Bänden, Gustav Fock-Verlag, Leipzig, n.d., p. 117).

12 Chamisso, Reise um die Welt, p. 233.

p>13 Urban, ‘The acquisition history of the Göttingen collection’, p. 58.

14 Institute archive of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the Georg-August University of Göttingen, Blumenbach file.

15 Family archive of Hartmut v. Hinüber, Burgdorf, original in German.

16 Christine Nawa, ‘Sammeln für die Wissenschaft? Das Academische Museum Göttingen (1773–1840)’, unpublished Magisterarbeit, Faculty of Philosophy, Georg-August University of Göttingen, 2005, p. 64.

17 Urban, ‘The acquisition history of the Göttingen collection’, p. 59.

18 Institute archive, Blumenbach’s correspondence file.

19 Kaeppler, Artificial Curiosities, pp. 44, 47.

20 Institute archive, Blumenbach file.

21 Quoted in Ludwig Uhlig, Georg Forster: Lebensabenteuer eines gelehrten Weltbürgers, Vandenhoek & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 2004, p. 110.

22 University of Göttingen Archive, A 4Vg/9.

23 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Tagebücher, 1801–1808, in Goethes Werke, herausgegeben im Auftrag der Großherzogin Sophie von Sachsen, vol. 3, Herrmann Böhlau, Weimar, 1889, p. 18.

24 For example, Blumenbach himself earned some 250 Reichstaler a year.

25 Georg Forster, Reise um die Welt, Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR, Berlin (1777) 1989, vol. 2, p. 59.

26 His creditors included Sir Joseph Banks, who released him from debts out of personal disappointment, only when Banks’s heirs allowed it (see Uhlig, Georg Forster, p. 124).

27 See Kaeppler, ‘The Göttingen collection in an international context’, pp. 86–91.

28 Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, Abbildungen naturhistorischer Gegenstände, Heinrich Dieterich, Göttingen, 1797, p. 163.

29 Göttingische Anzeigen von gelehrten Sachen, Göttingen, 1803, p. 501.

30 Johann Peter Eckermann, Gespräche mit Goethe in den letzten Jahren seines Lebens, Sonderausgabe der Insel-Bücherei, Leipzig, n.d., p. 31.

31 Manfred Urban, ‘Die völkerkundliche Sammlung: Eine im Zeitalter der Aufklärung wurzelnde ethnographische Sammlung: Ihre Entstehung und weitere Entwicklung’‚ in ‘Ganz für das Studium angelegt’: Die Museen, Sammlungen und Gärten der Universität, ed. by Dietrich Hoffmann and Kathrin Maack-Rheinländer, Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen, 2001, pp. 91–98 (p. 97).