Seventeenth-Century Trincketts

Early coinage – for numismatists: I am reading about Dampier and Jeoly (possible model for the fiction of Friday in Defoe’s Robbo book) and digging into texts about collections of curiosities and the like, and found this curio in the work of Barnes 2006, who refers to:

the Oxford Vice-Chancellor who looked, said the antiquarian Thomas Hearne, upon the Bodleian’s coin and medal collection “only as Trincketts . . . by which may be clearly seen that he has no relish of true Learning, & knows nothing of it” (Doble 2: 382).

Its not exactly clear when this was, though Hearn lived at that time (1678–1735) so I am guessing it was still currency… that is, about that time when Jeoly got to the UK – he travelled with William Dampier, who got back to London with just his manuscript and jeoly in tow, in 1691, havng met jeoly in India a year before and travelled with him to Bencoolen on Sumatra, then to England via the Cape and St Helena. I mean, I don’t know when the esteemed Oxfod VC disparaged the truth of coinage as but mere trincketts,  but its great to see a reference so early as the 17th century. Ah, and Jeoly – exhibited by Dampier to raise some funds, which is as grotesque as it sounds, though quite the sensation then. In a pub. As the painted prince because he was royalty back home. He was, it seems, also introduced to Mary and William, then head parasites of those Isle.

And did someone mention tattoos?

Screen Shot 2020-08-01 at 20.53.47

Playbill advertising ‘Prince Giolo’ in London, 1692.
Etching by John Savage.
Image is marked, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Australia.


I can’t say I agree with evey aspect in the interpretation of Dampier’s ‘opportunism’ in Geraldine Barnes’s article, but its full of great detail: including an apocryphal autobiography – all the rage then I am sure. See ee Barnes, G. (2006) ‘Curiosity, Wonder, and William Dampier’s Painted Prince’. Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, 6(1), 31–50.

Barnes transcription of the fine print from the flyer above is not complete, but:

‘Prince Giolo, Son to the King of Moangis or Gilolo: lying under the Equator in the Long. of 152 Deg. 30 Min. a fruitful Island abounding with rich Spices and other valuable Commodities. This famous Painted Prince is the just Wonder of the Age, his whole Body, except Face Hands and Feet, is curiously and most exquisitely Painted or Stained, full of Variety and Invention with prodigious Art and Skill perform’d . .

The engraving is widely known, though some texts quite mistakenly muddle the story. Dampier picks up Jeoly in Madras not Mindanao, though yes, he is from Miangas’:
“A similar fate befell the Miangas islander named Jeoly, who became popularly known as ‘Prince Giolo’ when he arrived in England in 1691. Perhaps the most famous of all the tattooed ‘curiosities’ exhibited in Britain, Jeoly was purchased as a slave by the buccaneer-adventurer William Dampier in Mindanao, the Philippines, in 1690. … Jeoly was put on display ‘as a sight’ at the Blue Boar’s Head Inn in Fleet Street in June 1692. A number of copies of the playbill advertising his public appearances survive (pictured above). The original advertisement includes a detailed etching of Jeoly by John Savage,
More to come of course… have to talk again with my friend Makiko Kuwahara on tattoos.

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