Implements of New South Wales

c.18th early engraved image of native implements from Sydney made by John Hunter. A. is a War Spear, formed of a light reed-like substance produced by the yellow gum tree, vide p. 235, which if the ends marked with the … Read Full Description

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Full Title:

Implements of New South Wales




In good condition.


Hand coloured copper engraving.

Image Size: 

x 230mm

Paper Size: 

x 282mm
Implements of New South Wales - Antique Print from 1790

Genuine antique



c.18th early engraved image of native implements from Sydney made by John Hunter.

A. is a War Spear, formed of a light reed-like substance produced by the yellow gum tree, vide p. 235, which if the ends marked with the letters were joined together would shew its full length: the long pointed head is of hard wood, of a reddish colour, and is fastened into the shaft in the firmest manner by a cement of the yellow gum only. 

B. is a Stick, at one end of which is a small peg fastened with the same cement, and forming a hook: the other end is ornamented with the shell of the limpet or patella, stuck on with the gum and, thus constructed, it is used to throw the spear — in this manner: The shell end of the stick being held in the right hand, and the spear poised in the left, the end of the hook at B. is inserted into a hollow at the foot of the spear at D. and thus thrown with a force similar to that of a stone from a sling: this is shewn more particularly in a reduced figure at the upper part of the Plate, a. b.CC. is a Spear or Gig, of a substance similar to the former, for striking fish in the water: the true length of which will be known by supposing the parts joined together at the lettered ends: the shaft consists of two pieces, a large and a small one, joined by the gum: and the head is composed of four sticks inserted into the shaft with gum, and tied together above with slips of bark, which are afterwards tightened by little wedges, driven within the bandage: each of these sticks is terminated by the tooth of a fish, very sharp, and stuck on by a lump of the gum cement: the shaft of this instrument is punctured in many places with very small holes, to the pith in the centre, but for what purpose is not known. 

H. is a Hatchet, of which the head is a very hard black pebble stone, rubbed down at one end to an edge the handle is a stick of elastic wood, split, which being bent round the middle of the stone, and the extremities brought together, is strongly bound with slips of bark, and holds the head very firmly, as smiths’ chissels are held by hazel sticks in Europe. 

S. is a kind of blunt Sword, of hard wood, like the head of the spear A. F. seems to be an instrument of offence it is a stick of the natural growth, with the bark on the root of which is cut round into a large knob the end F. is made rough with notches, that it may be held more firmly in the hand. 

R. is a Basket, formed by a single piece of a brown fibrous bark. This separated whole from the tree is gathered up at each end in folds, and bound in that form by withes, which also make the handle. The Basket is patched in several places with yellow gum, from which it appears to have been sometimes used for carrying water. These implements are drawn from exact measurements, and fitted to a scale of three feet, inserted at the foot of the Plate.

From John White’s, Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales

Ferguson, J. A. Bibliography of Australia Volumes 1-8, Canberra 1976 – 97.
Hill, J. The Hill Collection of Pacific Voyages. San Diego 1974 – 1858.
Nissen, C. Die illustrierten Vogelbucher. Stuttgart 1995 ZBI – 4390.
Abbey, J.R. Travel in Aquatint and Lithography 1770-1860. London 1972 – 605.
Wantrup, J. Australian Rare Books. Sydney 1987 – 17.
Crittenden, V. A Bibliography Of The First Fleet. ACT 1982 – 248.

National Library Australia: Bib ID 87340
State Library New South Wales: Call Number: MRB/Q991/2A2 (Original watercolour Call number PXA 909 / 13)
National Gallery Victoria: Accession Number2012.31
State Library Victoria: CCF 919.44 W58
National Museum of Australia: Object number 2007.0035.0001

John Hunter (1737 - 1821)

Hunter was an admiral and the second governor of New South Wales. In May 1754 he became captain's servant to Thomas Knackston in H.M.S. Grampus. In 1755 he was enrolled as an able seaman in the Centaur, after fifteen months became a midshipman, transferred to the Union and then to the Neptune, successive flagships of Vice-Admiral Charles Knowles, and in 1757 took part in the unsuccessful assault on Rochefort. In 1759, still in the Neptune, in which John Jervis, later Earl St Vincent, was serving as a lieutenant, he was present at the reduction of Quebec. In February 1760 Hunter passed examinations in navigation and astronomy and qualified for promotion as a lieutenant, but he remained without a commission until 1780. Hunter obtained his first commission in 1780 as lieutenant in the Berwick through Admiral Rodney. When the arrangements which resulted in the sending of the First Fleet to Australia were being made in 1786, H.M.S. Sirius was detailed to convoy it. Hunter was appointed second captain of the vessel under Governor Arthur Phillip with the naval rank of captain. He was also granted a dormant commission as successor to Phillip in the case of his death or absence. In Phillip's instructions, 25 April 1787, it was hoped that when the settlement was in order it might be possible to send the Sirius back to England under Hunter's command. On the outward journey, soon after leaving the Cape of Good Hope, Phillip transferred to the tender Supply, hoping to make an advance survey of their destination at Botany Bay; he placed Hunter in the Sirius in command of the main convoy, though in the result the entire fleet of eleven ships made Botany Bay within the three days 18 to 20 January 1788. When Phillip felt doubtful about Botany Bay as the site of the first settlement, he took Hunter with him on the survey which decided that the landing should be on the shores of Port Jackson. Hunter was chiefly employed on surveying and other seaman's business, as well as sitting both in the Court of Criminal Judicature, which met for the first time on 11 February, and as a justice of the peace, the oaths of which office he took on 12 February.

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