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200-year-old tribal paddle discovered 10,000 miles from home

Experts believe whoever acquired the paddle 192 years ago may have been inspired by Captain Cook.


Hanson senior valuer Karl Martin holds the ancient paddle. (Mark Laban / Hansons via SWNS)

By Sophie Watson via SWNS

A 200-year-old paddle worth thousands of dollars has been discovered in a house in landlocked Derby, England - 10,000 miles away from where it was made in the South Pacific.

The tribal paddle, believed to be from Tonga, is dated April 14, 1830 and has a short poem carved on the wood.

It reads: “William Murray, in a great hurry, took me in his hand. Out of a Conoa. Land. At
Vavaoo and brought me to this land. I’m arrived at my journey’s end. To be presented. To a friend.”

The paddle was discovered in a house in Littleover, Derby – 10,212 miles away from Tonga.

It is now expected to fetch £5,000 ($5,432) when it goes under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers on October 14.

Hansons’ senior valuer Karl Martin, who made the discovery, said: “It’s an unusually scarce object and pretty amazing to think it’s made it to all the way to Derby from the other side of the world.

A highly valuable 200-year-old tribal paddle has been discovered in a Derby house - more than 10,000 miles from its South Pacific origins. (Mark Laban / Hansons via SWNS)
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“Tonga is a small archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, directly south of Samoa and about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand.

“We understand it arrived in the UK all those years ago through Bristol Docks but we have no idea how it ended up in a Derby.

“In the 19th century wealthy young men liked to travel the world in search of adventure and picked up exotic objects like this along the way.

“The market for tribal art is strong, particularly among collectors in France and Canada, so it could achieve as much as £5,000 under the hammer.”

Experts believe whoever acquired the paddle 192 years ago may have been inspired by Captain Cook.

The legendary explorer first landed in the Tongan islands on October 2, 1773, during his second Pacific voyage.

In 1774 he returned for four days and received such a warm welcome he named Tonga the "Friendly Islands."

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