This newspaper cutting, from The London Gazette of 10th October 1684, includes an advertisement for a 'Very strange Beast called a Rhynoceros'. The rhino had been shipped from Golconda in India earlier that year, and was the first of its kind to have been seen in Europe since 1515. It was exhibited in a tavern in Ludgate Hill, London, and visitors were charged one shilling just to look, and two to ride on the creature's back. Sadly, the rhino died just two years later.
It was not uncommon for tradesmen travelling from the East Indies to bring home strange and exotic creatures. 17th century documents record the arrival of monkeys, parrots, mynah birds and waterfowl, brought to England to be sold to the royal menagerie at the Tower of London or to collectors of curiosities.
About The India Office trading documents
This is a collection of documents from the British Library's India Office, all of which relate to British trade with Asia from the late 1600's to the 1800s. The East India Company's first ships arrived in Bengal in 1608. By the end of the 17th century the company had factories, forts and settlements in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. It was importing cotton, silk and indigo, and making inroads into the Dutch domination of the spice trade.
Early in the 18th century, Company ships began to sail onward to Canton and the trade in tea ('cha') and porcelain ('China ware') began. From this time on the East India Company became more of a ruling power than a trading company in India, with the increasing involvement of the British government. A period of progressive domination and annexation followed so that, by 1858, when the East India Company was dissolved and the administration of India was taken over by the Crown, Britain controlled India, Burma, Singapore and Hong Kong.