Autograph letter, signed, to Sir Joseph Banks, dated at the foot

‘Red Lion Square, [3]d April 1782’.

1 page, folio, in a bold clear hand; some slight wear to left edge, touching 3 letters; later biographical note to head; slightly spotted, but generally in very good condition.


US $1757€1430

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‘I have the honour to send You the Produce of the ingenious Information You gave me, in so Kind & polite a manner, last Saturday [30 March]. As I sought You, in Your Character as a friend to Mankind, I have been sought: & You will perceive how much I have taken the midle way & accomodated my Doctrine to the Feelings of the Honest, without Alarming the Timid.’

The only recorded letter from Banks to Hanway is an undated one from this period on the subject of caterpillars (now at the State Library of New South Wales, and apparently from the same source – both letters being numbered in the same hand in the upper right-hand corner). It seems unlikely, however, that the New South Wales letter represents Banks in his ‘Character as a friend to Mankind’; much more probable that Hanway and Banks had been exchanging information regarding Hanway’s major project of that year – his Proposal for County Naval Free Schools to be built on waste lands, which would be distributed at great expense in June to the great and the good.

Hanway autographs are very scarce in commerce, the only material to have appeared at auction since at least 1940 being the pair of letters to John Blackburn from the Phillips collection, sold in 1977. This is the only recorded letter from Hanway to Banks, and proposes an intriguing connection between two major figures in eighteenth-century maritime affairs.

The Banks Letters, p. 394, recording only a transcription in the Dawson Turner collection.

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