A specimen of Banksia (named after Joseph Banks)

The collections

Animal specimens collected during the voyage numbered more than 1,000 species, and additionally there were just over 30,000 plant specimens, representing over 3,600 species, of which around 1,400 were then new to science. Today, the Museum's herbaria (botanical collections) contain many of those same specimens among their 7 million specimens of flowering and non-flowering plants from around the world. Duplicate samples of many were distributed to similar institutions for research, reference and safe-keeping. For instance, the National Museum in Wellington received 328 specimens in the 1890s and the Auckland Institute and Museum received 249 species. In 1905, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney were sent 586 specimens of Australian plants.

Parkinson's sketches finally made up 21 large bound volumes. These were supported by often rapidly made notes of Banks and Solander and subsequent fair copies written out by Sporing. These all remain an area of active research today, often reflecting the content of bundles of plants made up during the voyage. Parkinson was the only botanical artist aboard and his works remain of the utmost scientific importance. Supervised by Banks, Parkinson made 674 outline drawings on the voyage and 269 finished paintings. John Miller made 99 finished paintings after the voyage, Frederick Nodder 272, and three other artists 114. Banks and Solander determined and supervised which specimens should be drawn, on the basis of their being noteworthy or new to science.

Drawing of a Banksia

The scale of the job

In early parts of the voyage Parkinson was able to keep up with the pace of discoveries, finishing his coloured sketches, but later, overwhelmed by new specimens, he could only sketch and partially colour-in significant portions of each plant portrait, just enough to give an overall scientifically significant view of the plant specimen before it wilted and lost its colour. These remain in the Botany Library collections today. Next page...