Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Book of Fortunes | Hana Hou! Magazine

Matt Mallams and I photographed an extremely rare historical botanical book Herbarium Amboinense, a catalogue of the plants of the island of Amboinia, created by Georgius Rumphius in the 1600's, for Hana Hou! The Hawaiian Airlines Magazine.

Herbarium Amboinense, along with hundreds of other ancient botanical volumes, are watched over by rare book librarian Rick Hanna in the glass walled, climate controlled bunker in the library at the National Tropical Botanical Garden on Kauai.

"The story of the book’s creation is epic: "After going blind in 1670 due to glaucoma, Rumphius continued work on his six-volume manuscript with the help of others. His wife and child were lost to an earthquake and tsunami in 1674. In 1687, with the project nearing completion, the illustrations were lost in a fire. Persevering, Rumphius and his helpers first completed the book in 1690, but the ship carrying the manuscript to the Netherlands was attacked by the French and sank, forcing them to start over from a copy that had fortunately been retained. The Herbarium Amboinense finally arrived in the Netherlands in 1696—but then the East India Company decided that it contained so much sensitive information that it would be better not to publish it. Rumphius died in 1702, so never saw his work in print; Herbarium Amboinense finally appeared in 1741, thirty-nine years after Rumphius's death."

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