# 16001

CROFT, Thomas; TERRY, F.C. [Frederic Casemero] (artist), 1825-1869; SANDS & KENNY

[EASTER ISLAND] Double Bay from South Head Road. [1853]

$400.00 AUD

Sydney & Melbourne: Sands & Kenny, [c.1867]. Illustrated letter paper, sheet 252 x 200 mm (lacking the blank third and fourth sides), steel engraving in black ink 118 x 168 mm (irregular), signed in image ‘Terry, del., 1853’; the letter paper is written on both remaining sides and bears a letter from the Tahiti-based merchant Thomas Croft addressed to the Governor of Missouri, headed ‘Papeete, Tahiti, Society Islands, P. Ocean, July 25, 1878’; Croft’s letter enquires about the offer by the State of Missouri of a $10,000 prize to anyone who can explain the cause of the ‘Hog Cholera’ (swine fever); Croft claims he is ‘well acquainted with the cause, the preventive (sic), and the ease of that Disease, if taken in time. And although I am obliged to reside here on account of bad health – consumption – I am still able and would like to contend for that prize, if it is still open….’; the letter is complete, and signed in full at the foot by Thomas Croft; the letter paper with original fold lines, small ink stain to engraved illustration, verso with old paper adhesions to bottom margin of sheet.

Thomas Croft was an amateur anthropologist with a deep interest in the culture of Easter Island (Rapanui), in particular its mysterious writing system known as rongorongo. Working independently of Bishop Jaussen, Croft made an unsuccessful attempt to decipher the script with the help of an unnamed informant in Papeete, and in 1873 he sent photographs of two rongorongo tablets to the California Academy of Sciences with an accompanying letter outlining his conclusions about the Rapanui writing system. (See Stephen R. Fischer. Rongorongo: The Easter Island Script : History, Traditions, Texts. Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1997, pp 58 ff).

A fascinating document with an Easter Island connection.