Rumphius and the seashells of Ambon

This video says about itself:

Ambonese Herbal of Rumphius Part 1.

Part 1 – Lynn Margulis interviews the late E.M. “Monty” Beekman (1939-2008) on Georg Eberhard Rumphius (1627-1702) the German-born naturalist and botanist who worked for the Dutch East India Trading Company in the eastern archipelago in what is now Indonesia. Beekman translated Rumphius’s Herbarium Amboinense (Ambonese Herbal) from old Dutch and Latin to English. Video by James MacAllister, F.L.S.

And these four videos are the sequels.

On 26 November, the natural history museum, jointly with the Dutch Malacalogical Society, had a theme day on seashells and snails.

The third lecture was on Rumphius (1627-1702), the author of the first book on sea shells of Ambon island in the Indonesian archipelago.

The lecture was by Dr Wim Backhuys.

Born in Hanau in Germany, Rumphius’ job was merchant for the Dutch East India Company at Ambon.

There, he studied the local flora and fauna intensely, even after he became blind.

This way, with assistants helping him, he managed to write the illustrated book “D’Amboinsche rariteitkamer”, The Ambonese Curiosity Cabinet.

It was published three years after Rumphius’ death, in 1705.

However, already in his lifetime, Rumphius had a good reputation among people interested in natural history.

For instance, he corresponded with the archiduke of Tuscany, Lorenzo de Medici, who inherited part of what he had collected.

Like the skull of a babirusa hog.

The subtitle of Rumphius’ book The Ambonese Curiosity Cabinet mentioned “schaalvisschen”, literally shellfish.

This included both crustaceans and molluscs of today’s biology. Rumphius also described local stones in the book.

Among the shells, he described the Australian trumpet.

Which is not from Ambon; but brought there from islands further to the east.

Rumphius also planned to publish books on the animals and plants respectively of Ambon.

He had bad luck with both.

His book on animals was lost, used by a later Dutch author.

And the Dutch East India Company prevented publication of his book on plants, as they considered it contained information which might be commercially valuable to competitors.

Only in 1741 it was published.

3 thoughts on “Rumphius and the seashells of Ambon

  1. Pingback: Nerite snails and other molluscs | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: European birds, and Asian plants exhibition | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Carnivorous plants and Charles Darwin, part two | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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