These four fishing hooks come from the collection of Spelman Swaine, who collected them during his voyage as a midshipman, and later lieutenant, on board the Chatham in 1791-95. The Chatham was the ship that accompanied HMS Discovery on Captain George Vancouver’s expedition to the Pacific Coast of North America. The city of Vancouver is named after the Captain, as are several other places in Canada and the United States, and a statue of the famous Lynn-born Captain can be seen outside the Custom House. Spelman Swaine, also born in King’s Lynn, had a distinguished naval career. He was promoted several times during the Vancouver voyage and afterwards, went on to become a Rear Admiral in 1846. He retired to Wisbech and died in 1848.
These fishing hooks are made of bone. The larger ones consist of two pieces of bone, bound together with fibrous cord. The fishing line is attached to the hook with more fibrous cord. Swaine collected them on the Hawaiian Islands in 1794 and they are some of the earliest existing and rarest ethnographical objects from the Pacific. You can see them alongside other fishing hooks Swaine collected on the Vancouver expedition in the Maritime Heritage display.
Over the holidays, the museum is also running a Christmas-themed family trail.