Odds and quads

This handbill alerted Londoners to a rare opportunity to see "two kaamas's" - probably tapirs - "at the sign of the Coach and Horses" in Charing Cross, London.

December 23, 2010

It dates from 1703 and forms part of the extensive material once owned by the naturalist Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820), which was classified in five volumes. This item is now held in the Special Collections unit of the University of Bristol Library.

The remarkable text of the handbill (in the original spelling) reads as follows: "TWO Kaamas's, Male and Female, lately arrrived from the Bear-Bishes; being the strangest and admirablest Creatures that ever was seen alive in Europe; being as tame as a Lamb, having a Trunk like an Elephant, Teeth like a Christian, and Eyes like a Renosserous: Likewise wonderful Ears, with a white Firr round them like Saple, also a Neck and Main like a Horse, and Skin as thick as a Bouffler, and has a Voice like a Bird; having stranger Feet then any Creature that ever has been seen, they live as well in Water as on Land: These Rarities are to be seen at any time of the Day."

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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