Tahitian Squid Bait, French Polynesia
- fiber, cowrie shell, tiger cowrie shell, turbo shell
Townshend family of Frognal House, Sidcup, England
Harry Geoffrey Beasley, Chislehurst, England, bought on May 10, 1915
Irene Beasley, Chislehurst, by descent from the above
Allan Stone, New York, by 1966
According to Beasley scholar Lucie Carreau (personal communication, August 27, 2013), the offered lot is recorded in Beasley's register as number "969": "TAHITI: Bait for squid formed of numerous pieces of the tiger cowrie shell, with two plaited sinnet tails. Bt at the Sale of the Marquis of Townshend, Frognal, Sidcup."
Carreau further clarifies the presence of "Sydney", "Frognal" and "Sidcup" on the label (personal communication, August 29, 2013): "Frognal House is located in Sidcup (Greater London) and was purchased by Thomas Townshend in 1752. It became the residence of his son, Thomas Townshend, 1st Viscount Sydney (1733-1800), after whom Sydney, Australia, was named. He gained the title of Baron Sydney of Chislehurst (in the same neighbourhood as Sidcup and where Beasley ended up living) in 1783 and became Viscount Sydney in 1789. Sydney Cove and the settlement that became Sydney were named after him in 1788 by Governor Arthur Phillip.
"The title of Viscount passed down to his son, John Townshend 2nd Viscount Sydney. The 2nd son of the Viscount, John Robert Townshend, was titled 1st Earl Sydney and apparently 3rd Viscount Sydney and his title died with him in 1890 having had no children. Frognal House was inherited by Lord Sydney's nephew Robert Marsham, who assumed the additional surname of Townshend in accordance with his uncle's will. In 1915, the house was sold by the family [...] and the house was turned into a hospital in 1917. So, to me, it looks like the sale where Beasley bought the object on 10 May 1915 was a private sale of private property conducted in the actual house."
The connection between the "Sydney collection" and a "Marquis of Townshend", as suggested by the label of Beasley's squid bait, remains unclear, as Carreau explains: "The Townshend from Frognal House are related to the Marquess Townshend, although they are from a slightly different branch, the first Marquess of Townshend and the first Viscount of Sydney sharing the same grandfather." A possible source for Beasley's squid bait could exist in the person of Lord James Townshend (1785-1842), a British naval commander and younger son of George Townshend, 1st Marquess Townshend, who served as Captain in the Royal Navy, in particular on HMS Dublin in the 1830s, and was stationed in South America. However, given that by then his branch was already fairly distant from the Townshends of Frognal House his ownership is perhaps not the most lilkely and future scholarship may well bring to light another source of Beasley's squid bait.