Manuscript journal describing fishing voyages in the South Pacific and the Torres Strait, September 1870 to February 1875, written in brown ink in a neat hand, with two small text illustrations in ink, one of the reef at 'Brothers' Island, approximately 105 pages, folio (327 x 205mm), with 5 pages, 8vo, loosely inserted, including vocabularies and lists of stores; the manuscript comprising a diary of the voyages of the Prima Donna, the brigs Rebecca Jane and Australia from Sydney to the New Caledonia islands, San Francisco, New Zealand, Mauritius, Noumea, Maryborough, the majority comprising the 'Log of the brig Lady Denison on a Pearl & Beche le mer fishing voyage to Torres Straits and New Guinea', November 1873 - December 1874, and with a statement documenting cargo on the Prima Donna in 1871. With two loosely inserted watercolours on thin Whatman paper of natives, one with accompanying text in a different 19th-century hand relating to a cluster of islands off the coast of Korea (some, presumably blank, pages excised, short tear touching text). 19th-century half calf (some wear, loss at head of spine).
A detailed diary of voyages made in Australasia and along the coral archipelagos of the Torres Strait and New Guinea in search of Béche le Mer and pearl shells. Written soon after Europeans first established sea cucumber and pearling fisheries in the Strait, the account comprises a first-hand account of fishing ('there is no doubt that this Béche le mer work is the meanest work connected with a Sea life'; 'the Jervis islanders are said to be the best divers in the Straits'), the perils of navigating the coral reefs, and descriptions of islands in the Strait (Cocoa Hut island), the Trobriand islands (Woodlark island), and the Louisiade archipelago. The diary also comprises detailed observations of 'natives', their appearance ('the women wear a short grass petticoat voluminous in circumference... handsomely tatooed in various devices and patterns'), their methods of building houses and boats (with prows decorated with cowrie shells, presumably 'Kula ring' boats), and costume (including headdresses of cassowary feathers and cloths from New Guinea). The strong views of the author are also apparent; he disapproves of Catholic missionaries and debates the advantages of 'civilising' the natives. He is also condemnatory of the misdeeds of European government officers and, writing after '22 years of Sea service', is highly critical of the Captain of the Lady Denison. (3)