Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander collected over 3500 species of plants, from South America to South East Asia, during the 1768-1771 expedition led by Captain Cook.
Many of these species were drawn by Sydney Parkinson and approximately 735 of them were engraved into copper plates by a team of engravers in England.
The original drawings and copper plates are held in the Natural History Museum, London.
Several sets of black and white prints from the engravings were gifted to New Zealand in the late nineteenth century. These sets depict species from New Zealand and some of the other countries visited. The New Zealand engravings were intended to illustrate Thomas Kirk’s Students Flora. However, he died before completing this work, and the engravings were never published.
Te Papa holds 2241 black and white engravings representing some 606 plant species collected from Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, the Society Islands, and Tierra del Fuego as part of its Art collection.
Other New Zealand institutions such as the Alexander Turnbull Library and Auckland Museum also hold Banks and Solander black and white engravings.
The engravings in Te Papa’s collection are titled with the scientific names used in the 1980s Banks’ Florilegium publication. Each engraving is also linked to the currently accepted scientific name.
Brownsey PJ. 2012. The Banks and Solander collections – a benchmark for understanding the New Zealand flora. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand 42: 131-137.
Adams NM. 1988. The first illustrations of New Zealand plants: the Banks and Solander proofs held in New Zealand. National Museum of New Zealand Records 3: 93-99.
Tales from Te Papa Episode 34: Banks and Solander Collection.
Natural History Museum’s The Endeavour botanical illustrations, which includes online access to the colour prints.