Cook's final frontier
Antique Prints

Since 1763 the name 'Russborough' has been synonymous with collecting and dealing in fine art. In the closing decades of the last century the historic town of Port Hope has become home to Lord Russborough's Annex, which specialises in an individual mix of antique maps, paintings and prints.

While Lord Russborough's Annex features a great many works of museum calibre, we also offer a wonderful selection of prints priced at under $100.

An extract of our prints currently available:

Index

4. Cook's Final Fontier: Captn. Cook and the Pacific northwest.

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Webber, J.View of Prince William's Sound & Captn. Cook's ships 1778


Had those advent'rous spirits, who explore
Through ocean's trackless wastes, the far sought shore,
Whether of wealth insatiate, or of power,
Conquerors who waste, or ruffians who devour:
Had these possess'd, O Cook! thy gentle mind,
Thy love of arts, thy love of humankind;
Had these pursu'd thy mild and liberal plan,
DISCOVERERS had not been a curse to man!
                                           Hannah More 1745-1833

 

SECTION 4                        COOK’S FINAL FRONTIER
                              Captain James Cook and The Pacific Northwest

In July 1776 Captain James Cook RN. and Captain Charles Clerke RN. left Plymouth with orders from the Admiralty to seek a possible entrance/exit to the Northwest passage from the Pacific Northwest coast of America. In recognition of Cook's former achievements, Parliament that same year amended the Act (18 Geo.II) to include Royal Naval ships that found a Northwest Passage, not just through Hudson Bay, but by "any northern passage", also awarding £5,000 to "any ship that shall approach to within one degree of the North Pole" (16 Geo.III chapt. 6). Perhaps it was that prize and the compelling urge to discover more of the unknown that lured Cook out of retirement, despite signs of impending ill health.

Having spent 1777 in further exploration of the Pacific in the converted cat-built Whitby colliers "Resolution” and "Discovery", they sighted the coast of North America at 44° 33'N. on 7 March 1778. With thick fog and adverse weather conditions keeping them out at sea, they coasted along what they mistakenly believed to be the mainland (as opposed to the offshore islands), until forced to put in for repairs at Nootka Sound, Vancouver Is. during April. Cook, like many captains of his day, had to contend with the inefficiency, idleness and corruption that was rife in the 18th. century Royal Naval Administration. Cook claimed that the worn out equipment of commercial vessels was more reliable than that newly installed in the Royal Naval dockyards. On this third voyage, the work of refitting was even shoddier than usual – a factor which indirectly cost him his life.

After leaving Nootka, the crew did not see land again until 55° 20'N. thus missing the supposed entrance to De Fonte's Passage. However, they did examine Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet. They also rounded the Alaskan peninsula and searched in vain for the short eastern passage that Von Stählin claimed existed in 1774.  Between August 18-29th, they tried unsuccessfully to find a way through the unusually heavy pack ice between Icy Cape and Cape North.

Had they been able to effect a Northwest passage, the Admiralty intention was that they should rendezvous with the "Lion" (commanded by Lieutenant Richard Pickersgill in 1776 and Lieutenant Walter Young in 1777) which was charting in Baffin Bay. With winter approaching, Cook was forced to turn south via Norton Sound and put in at Unalaska for repairs. Whilst there, they chanced upon Russian fur traders.

Cook’s ships eventually arrived in Hawaii during January 1779. Following three weeks of pleasant rest and recreation, they departed but were forced to return after a few days due to a broken mast and faulty equipment, a consequence of the aforementioned corruption in the Royal dockyard.  It was then, that the unfortunate misunderstanding over a stolen boat occurred, during which the natives stabbed to death the greatest navigator of the eighteenth century and four other crewmen.

Charles Clerke, himself dying of consumption contracted in a debtor's prison, assumed command and with considerable devotion to duty, proceeded north once more. Following the Kamchatka Peninsula and Koryak coasts through the Bering Strait, until he was again stopped by the impenetrable ice barrier.  On the return south, Clerke died and the ships headed for Canton, China where they sold the furs they had obtained in northwest America for such high prices that the crew almost mutinied in their desire to go back for more. This was the beginning of what was to become a successful trade route. Nevertheless, the voyage continued back to England where they arrived in October 1780.

Captain James Cook's contribution to the exploration of the world cannot be overstated. He set new standards in navigation and marine surveying, assisted by the advances made in new instrument making of the sextant and marine chronometer/watch machine. His competency in handling natives and particularly his sailors and his humanity, earned him the admiration of his crew and eventually of the British Empire. In an age of harsh naval discipline, he was fair. His innovative standards of naval hygiene and the scurvy-combative diet he enforced, put him years ahead of his time. "Cook's success depended upon his eagerness to experiment with new foods and his uniqueness as a dietician lay in his replenishment of the provisions with fresh and varied sources. His experimentation may have caused his men some discomfort, but to be alive with an occasional belly-ache was unquestionably better than to be mortally ill with scurvy." * The use of over six tons of sauerkraut and salted cabbage, augmented by 5,000 pounds of portable soup that he took with him as an anti-scorbutic (a portion of which is preserved in the Maritime Museum, Greenwich), did much to promote the healthy well-being of his crew and helped to ensure his many successful discoveries. From humble beginnings, this enlightened man rose to fame and his name is now truly immortal.

*Burkhardt B.; McLean B.A.; Kochanek D. Sailors & Sauerkraut, p.72.Sidney B.C. 1978.

REFERENCES CITED:
Sabin Bibliotheca Americana, A Dictionary of Books relating to America. New York 1868-1936.  31181
Cumming et al. The Exploration of North America 1630-1776 p. 231-235 also p.251-254
Cook,A., Holland,C. The Exploration of Northern Canada 500-1920 A chronology. Toronto 1978.  1776-80
Burkhardt B.; McLean B.A.; Kochanek D. Sailors & Sauerkraut, p.72.Sidney B.C. 1978.

What was the relevance of Cook’s voyage:

  • Vast new areas of the Pacific, its islands & North American northwest coastline were charted for the first time and added to world knowledge.
  • He determined the extent of Alaska and closed the gaps in Russian and Spanish exploratory probes of the Northern limits of the Pacific.
  • Higher standards of marine navigation and surveying were employed.
  • The use of the new & better navigational instruments was confirmed as beneficial.
  • A more humane approach to naval discipline was adopted.
  • Higher standards of Naval hygiene and anti-scorbutic diet were devised and adopted.
  • A greater understanding of, and respect for, natives and their customs was appreciated.
  • Many native dialects were recorded for the first time.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THESE ITEMS MAY ONLY BE PURCHASED AS A COMPLETE SECTION


Ten Items >ADON                           PRICE CODE  F                            Contact us

Ice Islands seen

THE ICE ISANDS, seen
William Hodges.  London (1773) 1776

Original Copper engraving on laid paper, cut close. 9 ¼ x 14 7/8” (23.3 x 37.8 cm.) Ref.LRA701p/DR/e.sa> ANN

The scene depicted in this fine engraving is by B.T. Pouney after the watercolour by William Hodges.  Although the event actually took place on January 9th.1773, during Cook’s second voyage of discovery, the image being first published in 1776, (and differs somewhat from the 1784 Anderson publication and the title from the 1777 version published by Wm. Strahan.)
The scene could just as easily portray events on his third voyage in the Arctic Ocean. The ‘Resolution’ is shown dwarfed by an iceberg. The good detail shows some members of the crew out in the ship’s longboats gathering chunks of ice for drinking water with obvious difficulty. Others are trying to shoot seabirds to augment their fresh meat provisions. “In about five or six hours, took up as much ice as yielded fifteen tons of good fresh water. The pieces we took up were hard, and solid as a rock; some of them were so large, that we were obliged to break them with pick-axes, before they could be taken into the boats. The salt water which adhered to the ice, was so trifling as not to be tasted, and, after it had lain on deck a short time, entirely drained off; and the water which the ice yielded, was perfectly sweet and well-tasted.”

A White Bear

A WHITE BEAR
John Webber.  [London 1784]

Original Copper engraving on laid paper, good margins.
7 ½ x 9 5/8” (19 x 24.4 cm.) Ref.LRAArcp113/DEN/dn.sg> ASL

The image of this fine specimen was engraved by the Huguenot Irishman, Peter Mazell (fl.1761-91) after the painting by John Webber RA. (1751-93). The latter served on board HMS. Resolution as the official artist on Cook’s third voyage of discovery. This fine engraving was published in Cook, Clerke & Gore A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean,…for making Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere. First edition, 3 vols. London 1784. A description is given in Vol. III. P.252, stating that the animal depicted was one of two polar bears shot by musket fire from the crew of the Discovery on Monday, 19 July 1779. When hauled from the water, it was found to be 7 feet 2 inches long. Cook’s crew generally agreed that, although tasting fishy, the meat of the polar bear was preferable to that of sea horse (walrus). Polar bear skins were much prized in Europe from the Middle Ages and even today fetch a premium price.


Crew Shooting Walrus  Bw

SEA HORSES.
[after John Webber.]  [London 1785] 1811

Original Copper engraving on wove paper, hand tinted. 6 1/8 x 8” (15.5 x 20.2 cm.)
Ref.LRAArcp149/Dl/r.ss> VL

Image after John Webber RA., engraved by George Cooke and hand tinted. Published in John Pinkerton’s A general collection of the most interesting Voyages and Travels….. London 1811.
Cook entered a description of this incident in his journal for 19th August 1778 while near Icy Cape north of Bering Strait: “On the ice lay a prodigious number of sea horses and as we were in want of fresh provisions the boats from each ship were sent to get some. By 7 o’clock in the evening we had got on board the Resolution nine of these animals …. They lay in herds of many hundreds on the ice, huddling one over the other like swine, and the roar or bray very loud, so in the night or foggy weather they gave us notice of the ice long before we could see it” * Cook’s two ships HMS Discovery and Resolution are seen in the background.
 
*Cumming et al., The Exploration of North America 1630-1776 p.253#399.


Shooting Walrus h/c

THE CREW OF CAPTAIN COOK SHOOTING SEA HORSES ON THE ICE OF THE NORTHERN SEA, IN ORDER TO SUPPLY THE WANT OF FRESH PROVISIONS.
after John Webber.  [London 1785 (1813)]

Original Copper engraving on watermarked wove paper, 5 1/8 x 6 7/8” (13 x 17.5cm)
Ref.LRA951p /D.RL/o.se> VL

This is another copy of the foregoing image after John Webber RA., Published in James Cook’s A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean 3rd. edition. London 1813.
Foraging and victualling excursions such as this gave the crew members ample opportunity to field /ocean test the new foul weather ‘Fear-nought trousers’ and ‘Magellan jackets’ with fixed hoods which were especially issued for this voyage.
Fear-nought/Fearnaught jackets and trousers were issued to seamen as outer clothing in cold rough weather. They were so called because they were made of 'Fearnought' or 'Fernought', an exceptionally thick and dense heavy woollen cloth. Magellan jackets were a coat with a hood, designed to be wind and waterproof, were named after Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese navigator. These were a version of early oilskins thought to have been first issued by Capt. Cook.
Fearnought cloth was also used on board ship as a protective covering or lining around portholes, hatches and according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the doors of powder rooms.

 

Bowen Chart of Nootka Sound

BOWEN - Nootka Sound

SKETCH OF NOOTKA SOUND...1778.

Thomas Bowen.  London [1784]

Original Copper engraving on laid paper. 12 5/8 x 8 5/16" (32.1 x 21.2 cm.)
Ref.LRA1080/AN.VL/o.sl> AAL

Published in Rev.Thomas Bankes’s A Modern Authentic and Complete System of Geography. Published Alex Hogg, London [1784]. This shows the Ship Cove (today Resolution Cove) anchorage at the south end of Bligh Island, Nootka Sound, (originally named St. George’s Sound by Cook) Vancouver Island, where Cook’s ships put in for repairs from 29 March to 26 April 1778. Topographical features, rocks, soundings, compass rose and scale bar appear. The chart is based on the Sketch of Nootka Sound published 1784 by Lt. Henry Roberts, (Master’s Mate ‘Resolution’), who from 1781-84 prepared charts drawn by William Bligh (later of the Bounty infamy) for engraving.
This version differs marginally from the sketch of St. George's Sound (Nootka) by James Burney, the First Lieutenant on the ‘Discovery’, but it does show the location of three of the five Indian villages that the crew discovered and traded with: the start of the Nootka-Canton fur trade route, exploited with so much success by John Meares, James Hanna and others (1785).

The tent used on shore as an observation post was later purchased by John Graves Simcoe, first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada and it served as the future Province of Ontario's Government House, the tent having being purchased at the auction of Cook's effects upon the return of the ships to England. Simcoe and his family spent two chilly winters under canvas in Toronto.

Ref. National Library of Australia Map Rm 550/27

Boone Chart of Cook's River

BONNE
- Cook Inlet
CARTE DE LA RIVIERE DE COOKE..... DEL'AMERIQUE.... Marine
 Inset Plan du Havre de Samganoodha...Oonalaska ...1778.

Rigobert Bonne.  [Paris 1788]

Original Copper engraving on watermarked laid paper. Good margins compass rose, good condition.
9 3/16 x 13 9/16" (23.3 x 34.5 cm.) Ref.RI 45/EL /e.sn> ARL

Published in Troisième Voyage de Cook, Paris 1788, this chart shows the track of the Resolution from 20 May through 9 June 1778, as they carefully explored and charted Prince William Sound and Cook’s Inlet (labeled on the map as Cook’s River), the site of present-day Anchorage, Alaska. Cook's River is shown with soundings. Inset: shows Oonalaska Island and gives soundings around the island.
It shows finely engraved raised hachured mountain ranges and other topographical features, as well as the track and anchorages of Captain James Cook's ships ‘Discovery’ and ‘Resolution’ (whose sailing master was William Bligh, later of ‘Bounty’ and Australian mutinies notoriety; another crew member being midshipman George Vancouver). Based on the Cook/Roberts 1784 map of the Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet which was explored as a possible entrance to the elusive Northwest Passage, this map also shows soundings and astronomical observations and has an attractive compass rose. Bonne or his engraver André, would appear to be in error as to the month that the ships were in the region, as the positioning for the 18th & 26th. of May are confusingly marked June as compared with the MS. chart made by Lt. H. Roberts of the
Resolution’ and bound into Gore’s log.*

Rigobert Bonne (1727-1794) Bonne was an important French cartographer active in the later part of the 18th Century. In 1773 Bonne succeeded Jacques Nicolas Bellin as Royal Cartographer to France in the office of the Hydrographer at the Depôt de la Marine. The chart also appeared in Bonne’s Atlas Encyclopedique 1788 
*Vide. Charts & views drawn by Cook and his officers reproduced from the original manuscripts. Edit. by R.A. Skelton  Cambridge 1955 No LI.

Ref: Clements: Research Catalog of the maps of America to 1860 in the William L. Clements Library. Edit. Douglas W. Marshall Boston 1972  Vol 1. p.99 Vol 3, p.4

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Condor Bering Strait

CONDOR - Bering Strait

CHART of NORTON SOUND and of BHERINGS STRAIT made by the east coast of Asia and the west point of AMERICA.

THOMAS  CONDOR  London [Ca.1784]

Original Copper engraving on laid paper. Good margins, good condition. 
8 ¼ x 12 ¾ "  (21. x 32.5 cm.) Ref.LRA1079/AN.VL/o.sl> AAL

Based on the chart by Lieut. H. Roberts showing Norton Sound, the site of today's Nome, Alaska. This chart shows the tracks (picked line) of the ‘Resolution’ and ‘Discovery’ under the command of Cook from 28th.July-23rd. September 1778 while navigating the then uncharted Bering Strait, the fog briefly lifted affording Cook and his officers a view of both continental coasts, thus finally proving that America and Asia were not joined. The tracks of the ships under the command of Captain Clerke (solid line) from 3rd. July – 5th. August 1779, while on the second unsuccessful attempt to find a way through the heavy pack ice following Cook's death, are also shown; as is the 'gross mistake' in the charting of Clerke's and Anderson's Islands, which Mr. Bligh (hydrographer and the sailing master of the Resolution), who actually did the majority of the soundings and charting on this voyage, correctly contended were one island (St. Lawrence Island).

Vide: Hakulut Society 1955, Charts and views of Cook and his officers, #LIII
 Ref. Sabin 16250

 

Bowen Roberts Map of the world

BOWEN – World

A new and complete CHART of the WORLD displaying the tracks of CAPT'n COOK and other modern NAVIGATORS

THOMAS BOWEN      [London 1787]

Original Copper engraving on laid paper. Full body hand tinting. Good margins, good condition.  12 5/8  x 18"  (32 x 45.8 cm.) Ref. LRAm 1295Arc 44/DNN/ >LNN

A fine map, engraved for Rev.T. Bankes's New System of Geography, London 1787. This is based on the general chart showing the discoveries of Capt. James Cook by Lieut. Henry Roberts RN., which Cook instructed him to begin compiling during the third voyage. The completed chart on Mercator's projection was first published in 1784 and provided what was probably the most accurate delineation of the known outline of the world at that time. The inclusion of Cook's many discoveries remains his most impressive memorial. Bowen's version also shows the tracks of Cook's ships during his three voyages. A key (bottom right) corresponds the various tracks to each voyage.  He has however, made an error in the date of departure of the third voyage and another date of position error on the second voyage. Also shown are the tracks of the Phipps voyage in 1773. For those interested in Cook’s explorations and Phipps voyage this is a must have map. So important was it that the news of the new discoveries reach England, that copies of Cook’s papers, under instructions from Clerke in May 1779 were dispatched by sledge, via retiring Governor Behm of Kamchatka and St. Petersburg. It took seven months for Cook’s journal including the manuscript upon which this map is based and the news of Cook’s death, to reach the Admiralty.
In North America, there is a fictitious West River. A note on the northwest coast of the continent mentions Fou-sang, a mythical Chinese colony allegedly established in the 5th century. The Sandwich Islands are shown and noted as the place where Capt. Cook was killed. The South Pacific is filled with islands and New Zealand is fully formed. Tasmania is still attached to Australia, which is shown with an incomplete southern coastline. There are numerous detailed notations throughout.

Vide: The exploration of the Arctic and Northern Canada Sect II

Ref. Clements, Vol I p. III
       Phillips (Maps) p. 1094.

Catpn. Jas Cook

JAM[E]S COOK.

H.B. Hall's sons        New York ca. 1886

       SCARCE. Original mixed media mezzotint and steel engraving on wove paper,
             11 ½ x 7” (29.2 x 17.8 cm.)    Ref. LRA 1024p/ EN /dd.dosl > RAL

This is a handsome, quarter-length portrait of Post-Captain James Cook R.N., beneath which is a facsimile of his signature embellished with its fine calligraphic paraph. The pose is adapted from the famous three-quarter length seated portrait by Nathaniel Dance (now in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich) which was painted in 1776, between Cook's second and third voyages. Hall's engraving subtly captures both the compassion and determination of the great explorer. This image was engraved by Henry Bryan Hall (1808-1884) and his three sons (Henry Bryan junior, Alfred Bryan and Charles Bryan), with whom he formed the company H.B. Hall and Sons, to engrave and publish portraits. It was published circa 1886 for The Picturesque Atlas of Australasia. The Picturesque Atlas Publishing Company was set up to publish "a grand illustrated work to highlight Australia's century of progress as a Western Nation". It has an unusual American imprint.

Born in Marton-cum-Cleveland, [Middlesbrough] Yorkshire in 1728, Cook was largely self- educated, but possessed a natural aptitude for mathematics and navigation. After gaining early experience on Northumberland colliers, he joined the Royal Navy in 1755. As master, he was engaged in the naval campaigns of the Seven Years' War in Canadian waters. Following instruction received from marine surveyors Samuel Holland and Joseph Des Barres, he succeeded in attracting the attention of his superiors for the charting of the intricate St. Lawrence traverse below Quebec City. In the five years after the war he charted much of the coastline of Newfoundland. In 1768, his reputation as a sea-going scientist afforded him the opportunity to embark on his first great voyage of discovery in search of the fabled southern continent. On this voyage he also observed the transit of Venus, and charted much of the New Zealand and Australian coasts. In 1770 Captain Cook landed at Botany Bay, claimed the land for Britain and named the land New South Wales. Previous and subsequent exploration, discoveries, and development of the country were recorded, with many wonderful illustrations, in Picturesque Atlas of Australasia, published in Sydney between 1886 and 1888 to commemorate 100 years since the First Fleet settlement in Australia.

Between 1772 and 1775, during his second voyage, he again made many new discoveries in southern latitudes. Upon his return, Cook was promoted Post - Captain and elected a fellow of the Royal Society.

In July 1776, at the age of 47, he was enticed from retirement to embark on his final great marine survey. Following his ships discovery of the (Hawaiian) island group, named by Cook ‘Sandwich Islands’, (after the fourth Earl Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty), heading north, his ships explored the Bering strait and coasts of America and Russia during September and October 1778. Cook charted the majority of the North American north-west coastline on world maps for the first time, determined the extent of Alaska, and closed the gaps in Russian (from the West) and Spanish (from the South) explorations and he made exploratory probes of the Northern limits of the Pacific. Forced from further penetration of the Arctic ice, he was obliged to return to Hawaii, where the Polynesian natives proclaimed him to be the earthly embodiment of the god Orono. Due to a misunderstanding, he met an untimely death on St.Valentine’s Day 1779, in Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii, at the hands of chief Kua and other natives. In remorse, the natives venerated his bones for many years thereafter. Although he had occasionally exercised erratic judgement on his final voyage, (now thought to have been as a result of intestinal trouble) James Cook's character is described in the names of his ships: ‘Resolution’, ‘Endeavour’, ‘Adventure’ and ‘Discovery’. Sir Joseph Banks described him as "the finest man (he) ever knew". The career of this remarkable and celebrated man was perhaps summed up in epitaph by the Comte de la Pérouse: “No one will ever again equal that immortal navigator".

Vide. Beddie, "Bibliography of Capt. James Cook", Mitchell Library, Sydney NSW. #3288

Sir Jos Banks

SIR JOSEPH BANKS, BART. K.G. K.B. P.R.S.
H. Robinson  [London ca.1860]

Original steel engraving on wove paper, 8 x 6 5/8" (20.3 x 16.7)
Ref. ARCp100/L/l.sg> EL

This is an engraving by Robinson after the three quarter length seated portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence (National Portrait Gallery, London). Within a decorative engraved border, published by J. Tallis & Co.  In the story of exploration, it is important not to forget the wealthy British naturalist, Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) who accompanied Capt. James Cook on his first voyage of exploration. It was he who largely paid for the fitting out of the ‘Endeavour’. He fully intended to be part of Cook's second voyage, but his pomposity caused such derision between himself and the Admiralty that he was forced to withdraw in a huff. Nevertheless, Banks' influence was considerable, and he became a great patron of explorers, especially after he became patron of the Royal Society. His range of professional interests extended over the whole kingdom of living creatures. It was Banks who commissioned the famous portrait of Cook (see previous item) from Nathaniel Dance.

When Phipps, was commissioned the same year to search for a passage northeast to India by way of the Arctic, Banks gave him a long list of desiderata: he needed information on bird and fish migrations, sea water, and ocean currents, and he asked for biological specimens. His persistent interest in the Arctic is shown in much of his correspondence, particularly in the letters received from William Scoresby, a pioneer explorer of Arctic seas.

While Phipps was away on his voyage in 1773, Banks took an active part in the running of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (London), work that was to result in the development of the gardens as a great storehouse of living plants from all over the world. Early intensive work on the florae of southern Africa, Australia, and the Pacific coast of Canada was largely due to his efforts, and in addition to being in effect the director of the gardens until his death, Banks also became George III’s unofficial scientific adviser.

It is thanks to Banks' endeavours that pictorial records and specimens from so many expeditions and voyages are preserved today. Indeed, the engravings of the specimens that he collected on Cook's first voyage have only recently (finally) been published as Banks' Florilegium. Banks was one of the most influential persons connected with science in the 18th century. He was deeply interested in the development of Australia and he has been called the father of that country. Banks is commemorated in Canadian waters by Banks Island off the British Columbia coast, named in 1788 and by Banks Island in the Arctic Archipelago, named shortly after Banks’s death by William Edward Parry.

 

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