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117719 117719_1 117719_2
WICKHAM, Henry Alexander.

On the Cultivation, and Curing of Parà Rubber (Havea Brasiliensis)....

With an Account of its Introduction from the West to the Eastern Tropics.

Availability: In stock

Published: London Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. Limited, 1908

Stock Code: 117719

OR On display in 100 Fulham Road


First edition, uncommon just 6 copies on Copac. Wickham (1846-1928), first visited South America in 1866, setting himself up as a dealer in bird plumage. He subsequently pieced together a living as a rubber dealer, sugar and tobacco planter. In 1872 he was taken on by Sir John Hooker as a plant collector, and was introduced to Clement Markham who was seeking someone to assist "in introducing the Pará rubber tree Hevea Brasiliensis into India" (ODNB). Wickham's plantation was failing, and "encouraged to obtain as many seeds as possible at 10 per 1000, Wickham seized the opportunity not only to gather but to accompany the seeds to England and escape a life that had become unsustainable". At customs he described his baskets as containing 'exceedingly delicate botanical specimens specially designated for delivery to Her Britannic Majesty's own Royal Gardens'. "Though the very size of the shipment might have caused the local Brazilian officials to pause or seek authorisation, the deception was more of a precaution. No one on the Amazon at the time could have foreseen that the massive industry about them might one day be eclipsed, or that Hevea could be successfully cultivated elsewhere". Irritated by the delay in replying to his offer to accompany a shipment of seedlings to Ceylon, Wickham invested his fee in the purchase of coffee plants and emigrated to Queensland to establish a plantation. The inevitable failure of this enterprise was followed by another débâcle founding a rubber and banana plantation in British Honduras. In the early years of the twentieth century "when the success attending the development of rubber plantations in the Far East began to exceed all expectations, his occasional appearances in London received increasing attention from journalists. He was an adept self-publicist". Publishing the present account in 1908, 1908, in 1911 he was "fêted at an international rubber banquet, presented with 1000 guineas, and provided with an annuity for life by the Rubber Growers' Association and the Planters' Associations of Ceylon and Malaya. His receipts from gifts of money, shares, and other benefactions over subsequent years were substantial lionised by the rubber companies and demonised by Brazilians. He received a knighthood in 1920. His fame had become international and his name everywhere associated with the rubber industry and the snatch of 1876. That Wickham had played a crucial role cannot be disputed. It has been established that it was from Wickham's seeds alone that the entire south-east Asian rubber industry was built".

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Octavo. Original rust cloth, title gilt to the spine and in white to the front board.


Frontispiece and 8 other plates, map, illustrations to the text.


A little rubbed, small ink splash to the spine, endpapers a little browned, occasional foxing, but overall very good.


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