A complete first edition set of Captain James Cook's Voyages will be going under the hammer in an Auckland auction house next week, along with some of the first sketches, maps and observations made of New Zealand.
Dated between 1773 and 1784 - two of the books were published in the explorer's lifetime - before the sailor met his death in Hawaii in 1779.
Among the stories in the first edition of the Endeavour Journey is the first mediated contact Māori and Europeans by navigator Tupaia and the English explorers. There are also copies of the charts and drawings known of Aotearoa, Australia and Papua New Guinea.
The rare books are deeply significant to the history of the Pacific, said Ben Erren, Head of Decorative Arts for the auction house.
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"First editions of the documentation of his three Pacific voyages are very rare and highly sought after by collectors in New Zealand and internationally," said Erren.
The auction house describes the books in their original bindings as "a collector's dream".
While the books currently belong to a private collection in New Zealand, he says there is a strong interest from overseas buyers.
"This complete set is in remarkably good condition, the likes of which has not come to market for many years."
The collected Cook's Voyages are expected to fetch over $50,000 at auction on 2 February.
The 153 lots going up for sale at next Wednesday's Material Culture auction include exotic artefacts from the Ivory Coast to Tonga.
The gems of the collection are from Aotearoa, including a pipe made by Te Āti Awa carver Jacob Heberley, weaponry from the Māori Land wars and an ornately carved fowling gun from the 1800s.
A large number of the items in the auction are from the Hamilton based Lim-Strutt Family Collection, says Webb's.