Jewels of the Bounty

When the mutineers burnt the HMAV Bounty on January 23, 1790 to avoid detection from the authorities, much was sent to the seabed of Bounty Bay. Over time some of the more permanent fixtures that were on the ship have changed their appearance through metallic changes and oxidation. These “jewels” of copper, lead and bronze all display brilliant colours of reds, purples and verdigris green and along with their history, represent a treasure to behold.
Jewels of the Bounty
Nigel Erskine’s article “Reclaiming the Bounty” in the magazine ‘Archaeology’ (Volume 52 Number 3, May/June 1999) sums up his Project Pitcairn, where many remaining artefacts were uncovered to help reveal the story of the final days of the Bounty and how its crew adapted to their new life.

Erskine writes (abbreviated):
“A reconnaissance trip in 1997 confirmed that significant remains of Bounty lay in the surf just off the Landing, the island's only harbour. The first area sampled quickly confirmed that artefacts lay trapped beneath the ballast. Working in a small hole, partially shielded from the wave surge, we removed two ballast blocks to expose a concreted mass of artefacts including copper sheathing and nails held together in a mixture of corroded metal and sediment. The nails were in surprisingly good condition, with no sign of corrosion, and remained extremely sharp. Several concretions brought to the surface later revealed cannonballs, grapeshot, musket balls, and a large piece of timber in good condition.
Jewels of the Bounty 
A bolt appeared to be a puzzling composite of iron with a brass outer case. More of them, found later throughout the site, attest the measures taken to prepare the ship for its botanical mission. The refitting included covering the wooden hull with copper sheets to protect it from teredo worms and to discourage barnacles and other marine organisms from fouling (and thereby, slowing) the ship. This was an expensive but necessary exercise for a voyage in the tropical waters of the Pacific lasting several years. The Admiralty had long accepted the advantages of copper sheathing, and after tentative experiments with smaller warships, had ordered the entire fleet coppered in 1782. An important part of this process was the development of suitable fastenings. Several ships sank after the iron fastenings that were initially used came into contact with the copper and corroded. Bounty's bolts may prove early examples of fastenings developed to be compatible with copper sheathing.

We also found a lead scupper associated with the drainage of the captain's cabin-greenhouse, a range of copper-alloy and iron fastenings, a large iron hinge, bronze washers clearly displaying the broad arrow symbol (marking them as British government property), animal bones, pulley sheaves, keel staples, and a variety of iron fragments in concretions. Some of the concretions are hollow, where iron objects have corroded entirely. These will be X-rayed and used for casting molds of the original objects. Almost without exception, the finds relate to the structure and armament of the ship. Only two or three objects, including a spoon crudely fashioned from copper, may relate to the crew. The near total absence of personal items suggests that Bounty was stripped of all useful items before it was burned”.
Jewels of the Bounty FDC

Jewels of the Bounty
Please Note: All prices are in New Zealand Dollars
Set of 4 stamps
Gutter pair
Block of four
FDC with stamp set

Technical Details

Denise Durkin, Wellington, New Zealand

Pitcairn Stamps
proudly brought
to you by:

Bounty Post
Printer: Southern Colour Print, Dunedin, New Zealand

Process: Offset Litho
Stamp size: 40.00mm x 30.00mm horizontal
Format: Two panes each of 20 stamps separated by gutter
Perforation Gauge: 13.33 x 13.33

Denominations: $1.00, $1.80, $2.10 and $3.00
Paper: 103gsm Tullis Russell Yellow/Green phosphor gummed stamp paper

Period of Sale:
27 February 2017 for a period of 2 years

Acknowledgement: The Philatelic Bureau wishes to thank Tony Probst (USA) and the Pitcairn Islanders for their enthusiastic co-operation in providing images and descriptions.