Charts relating to Bowrey’s 1695 voyage to the Pacific Northwest from the journals that sold for £34,000 at Bonhams.

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He was also one of the first Europeans to experience the narcotic effects of 'bhang'. In what may be the earliest first-hand account of the recreational use of cannabis, Bowrey described the preparation of bhang liquor, a soaked mix of cannabis leaves and seeds that was strained through calico. He then reported on the different effects it had on his men. Some wept, some cringed in fear, one angrily pounded his fists against a wooden beam, while Bowrey himself merely owned up to sweating profusely.

Papers relating to the career of Captain Bowrey surfaced at a valuation day held by Bonhams at Cowes on the Isle of Wight, and included everything from a list of property rentals to particulars of his will, but the bulk of material and principal attraction is his account of voyages to the East Indies, the South Seas and the Pacific Northwest. They show that what Bowrey himself would probably liked to have been remembered for was his 1695 voyage in search of the Northwest Passage.

This powerful mix of human interest and historical significance was initially estimated at £10,000-15,000, though this was halved when comparison with other manuscripts suggested they might be a contemporary family copy rather than autograph.

This two-volume mix of logs, diaries and memoranda nonetheless provided a lot of extra detail about Bowrey's life and times and bidding easily surpassed that first, more optimistic estimate.

At Bonhams on March 28 the lot went on to sell at £34,000 to an unnamed British buyer.

By Ian McKay