William Hodges (1744 - 1797)

Extremely rare proof plate of Omai 1777 Very rare proof plate of Omai; this is a separately issued engraving and not the same as the one found in the published account of Cook’s second voyage. Sold with the later published … Read Full Description

$A 2,850

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S/N: PROOF-CK02E-1169-PI-SOC–232982
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Full Title:





William Hodges (1744 - 1797)


James Caldwell 
(1739 – 


Repaired tears to sheet edges, minor soiling, otherwise in good condition.


Copper engraving.

Image Size: 

x 227mm

Paper Size: 

x 345mm

Platemark Size: 

x 303mm
Omai. - Antique Print from 1777

Genuine antique



Extremely rare proof plate of Omai 1777

Very rare proof plate of Omai; this is a separately issued engraving and not the same as the one found in the published account of Cook’s second voyage.

Sold with the later published plate measurements        image: 227mm x 175mm   sheet size: 285mm x 222mm  In good condition

Omai (more correctly Mae or Mai), was the young Raiatean (Society Islands) taken on the Adventure to England. He was the embodiment of the ‘noble savage’ concept put forward by the influential French philosopher, Rousseau. Omai played an instrumental role as communicator between Cook and the natives of the Pacific Islands during the second and third voyages. Omai’s return was also one of the specific tasks contained in the Admiralty’s instructions for Cook’s third voyage.

Examples of proof plates of engravings used in the published accounts of Cook’s voyages have been found which we suspect were offered to discerning ‘print collectors’ prior to the release of the published accounts to the general public. They were in probably marketed as being early printings off the plates and with intentional differences in lettering below the images to identify and enhance their uniqueness. These proofs are found printed before letters (ie lower margin totally blank, lacking all lettering below the image and without a publication line) or as in our example with different treatment of the title lettering and without a publication line.

The differences between our proof plate and the published version are;

1. Richer impression than published version.
2. Titled printed with fine open letters unlike the published version which has cross hatching in the letters
3. Below image at left in fine cursive style: Drawn from the life by w Hodges, unlike published version which has,
   Drawn from Nature by W.Hodges in a different font.
4. Below image at right: Engraved by Jas. Caldwald 1777 in cursive style, 
unlike the published version which has, Engraved by J.Caldwall, in a different font.
No plate number at lower right, unlike published version which has plate No. LVII
No publication information at bottom of sheet unlike the published version which has: Published Feb.1ft.1777, by Wm. Straban, New Street, Shoe Lane & Thos. Cadell, in the Strand, London.

Reference  (not proof plate); Beddie 1381-57, p.269, Joppien 2.65A, ill.p.175, Nan Kivell p.238

From Cook’s, A Voyage Towards the South Pole, and Round the World, performed in His Majesty’s Ships the ‘Resolution’ and ‘Adventure’, In the Years 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775.


William Hodges (1744-1797)

William Hodges was born in London, the only son of Ann and Charles Hodges, a blacksmith of St. James’ Market London. They encouraged their son’s talent for drawing and placed him in William Shipley’s drawing school at Castle Court in the Strand. Joining Richard Wilson as an apprentice in 1758, he was required to assist his master ‘in dead colouring and the forwarding of pictures’. A short period of study under Wilson and Cipriani at the Duke of Richmond’s Gallery developed his style for classical composition. He was appointed artist on the Resolution and left Plymouth on 13 July, returning on 29 July 1775.

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