London: Printed for T. Warner at the Black Boy, and J. Batley at the Dove, in Pater-noster-Row, 1718
First Edition, 8vo [190 x 125mm], Contemporary panelled calf, old calf reback, with half title, dedication to the reader, 2 engraved maps, 1 folding, and 5 engraved plates.
GEORGE EDWARDS COPY. Annotated on Title-page ‘With the best Description of the Orang-outan’. The plate of the ‘Oran-ootan’ annotated in Edward’s hand ‘ This Animal seems to be the same with one figur’d by Peter Van der AA’ Book refer to his book of figures in the Library of the College of Physicians Lond. Under Letter F2. 242′.
This is the first European reference to the Orangutan.
In November 1714, three British merchants (including Beeckman) from the East India Company ship Borneo were granted permits to trade by the sultan of Banjar on the south coast of the island of Borneo. The issuing of trading permits was a common occurrence, but what was exceptional in this case was the form of the permit itself: a thin piece of gold stamped with the sultan’s seal, with a personalised inscription naming each of the three officers. At this time the ruler of Banjar was Sultan Tahmidullah (1712-1747), and the presentation of the permits took place at his palace at Caytongee or Kayu Tangi, about a hundred miles upriver from the port of Banjarmasin.
This account is mainly of Captain Beekman’s visit to South Kalimantan to gain a foothold for British merchants in the lucrative pepper trade there. Unfortunately, his arrival coincided with a local civil war. However, his observant eye was able to take in much about the culture of not only the town dwellers of Banjarmasin, but also of the aboriginal tribes in the vicinity. As well as the Orangutan, he also made fairly extensive notes of the other wildlife in the region.
There are also accounts of the Canary Islands, Christmas Islands, Cape of Good Hope and the Islands of St Helena and Ascension.
Engraved bookplate of George Edwards as Librarian to the College of Physicians, London.
Hill 350; Cox Vol. I, page 286