Botanical-inspired postcards from the William Hunter collection

Set of six William Hunter botanical postcards
2018. Areca Books.


A set of six sublime and full-colour illustrations from the William Hunter collection depicting flora found in Penang. An ideal and timeless gift that is perfect for any occasion.

botanical postcards













William Hunter’s ‘Plants of Prince of Wales Island

Dr William Hunter was born in 1755 in Montrose, Scotland. Medically trained, he was employed as a medical surgeon under the East India Company. During a sea voyage to South India to work as a doctor, the ship met with an accident due to rough weather and was forced to dock in the Syrism river of Pegu. During the unexpected delay for repairs, Hunter began to collect materials for his work, titled “A concise account of the Kingdom of Pegu,” which was subsequently published in 1785.

Hunter was a multifaceted author too. He wrote papers on a variety of subjects from astronomy, medicine, and oriental languages to botany, mainly published in the Asiatic researches while working as a surgeon. It is deduced that he visited Penang in 1802 or early 1803 when he wrote “Plants of Prince of Wales Island” which had not been published. The manuscript provided a first-hand account of his experiences in Penang during his visit and of the plants he encountered. He served as Superintendent Surgeon in Java during the last years of his life, after the British captured the island and its territories in 1811.  He passed away in Batavia in 1812.

The manuscript of the “Plants of Prince of Wales Island” had been missing up until the spring of 1987 when a London art-dealer, Yu-Chee Chong came across them. There are 22 illustrations in the set of some of the species recorded in the manuscript. Most of the illustrations are said to be in the style of the Indian artists employed at Calcutta by Roxburgh, while some of them are probably illustrated by a local Penang Chinese artist. The watercolour illustrations appear to be drawn from life which suggests that they were actually made in Penang.

This postcard set features 6 specially selected long-lost watercolour illustrations from Hunter’s Plants of Prince of Wales Island manuscript. Descriptions of the plants, printed on the flip-side of the postcards, were compiled from multiple sources such as Heritage Trees of Penang by Ee May Lai and Simon Gardner, A Dictionary of the Economic Products of the Malay Peninsula by I. H. Burkill, The Illustrations to William Hunter’s ‘Plants of Prince of Wales Island written by L. L. Forman, Raffles’ Ark Redrawn: Natural History Drawings from the Collection of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles by H. J. Notlie, and Plants of Prince of Wales Island by William Hunter with an introduction by H. N. Ridley.



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