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Rink, Hinrich Johannes (1819-1893)
Journal holdt under min Deeltagelse I den nikobarske Expedition fra den Dag ap da jeg forlod Corvetten “Galathea” I Pula Penangs Havn. H Rink”

folio, 56 manuscript pages, 4 manuscript maps and one printed map of the Nicobar Islands laid in, original blue gray paper wraps, text in very good clean and legible condition, few tears into text on 3 leaves affecting text somewhat. The manuscript maps, presumably executed by Rink are of the Nicobar Islands, including the coastlines of Kamorta and Nankoury, black, red and yellow ink on paper, 14 x 10 ¾ inches; Teressa and Bambuka, ink on paper, approximately 10 x 7 ½ inches; one map of a river is headed “Galathea Floden”, ink on paper, with pencil notes, 13 x 8 inches; Bambuka, ink on paper 10 ¾ x 8 ¼ inches; and an untitled map which appears to be the island of Milu, ink on paper, with detailed ink and pencil notes on soundings, etc., 12 ¾ x 8 ¼ inches. The printed map is a folding colored map, entitled: Geognostische Karte der Nicobarischen Inseln, likely extracted from a contemporary German atlas, measures 17 ¼ x 10 ⅜ inches.

The Galathea expeditions comprise a series of three Danish naval scientific research expeditions in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, carried out with material assistance from the Royal Danish Navy. All three expeditions circumnavigated the world from west to east and followed similar routes. The present journal was kept on the first Galathea Expedition by Hinrich Rink. Rink spent approximately five months in the Nicobar Islands, carrying on geographic exploration of the islands, in the course of which he executed the maps accompanying his journal detailing the day to day events from March 21, 1846- July 21, 1846.


The Nicobar Islands are an archipelagic island chain in the eastern Indian Ocean. They are located in Southeast Asia, 150 km north of Aceh on Sumatra, and separated from Thailand to the east by the Andaman Sea. Located 1,300 km southeast of the Indian subcontinent, across the Bay of Bengal, they form part of the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. Organized colonization of the islands began with the Danish East India Company in 1754/56, the climate proved to be a formidable adversary of their efforts. The Danes attempted to re-colonize the islands during the time Rink kept his journal, these efforts also proved unsuccessful. Rink became ill and returned home.

The first Galathea Expedition took place from 1845 to 1847 and had political and scientific objectives. It was initiated by the King of Denmark, Christian VIII, with its main purposes the handover of the Danish colonies in India, following their sale to the British East India Company, as well as a final Danish attempt to explore and recolonize the Nicobar Islands in the Indian Ocean. Additional aims were the expansion of trade with China and the discovery of new trading opportunities, as well as making extensive scientific collections.


The Galathea was a three-masted, naval corvette, built in 1831 at the Gammelholm naval shipyard in Copenhgagen. When it departed on its voyage under the leadership of Captain Steen Andersen Bille it carried 231 seamen and scientists, 36 guns, and supplies for one year. The scientists included physician and assistant botanist Didrik Ferdinand Didrichsen, botanist Bernhard Casper Kamphǿvener, entomologist Carl Emil Kiellerup, geologist Hinrich Johannes Rink, and zoologists Wilhelm Friedrich Georg Behn and Johannes Theodor Reinhardt, not all of whom remained for the duration of the voyage, as well as sketch artist Johan Christian Thornam and genre painter Poul August Plum.


The expedition was an expensive undertaking, with a budget of nearly half a million Rixdollars, equivalent to 3% of Denmark’s annual state revenues at the time.


The Galathea left Copenhagen on June 24, 1845 and, after a provisioning stop at Madeira, sailed southwards around Africa to India, where she visited Tranquebar, Pondicherry, Madras and Calcutta. In Calcutta an additional ship, the steamboat Ganges, was purchased and the carrier Christine hired, to assist with work in the Nicobar Islands. Considerable time and effort was expended at the Nicobars; most of January 1846 was spent in the northern Nicobar Islands, and February in the southern. In addition to scientific surveys and collecting, preparations were made for a new colony based at Pulo Milu. Several people, including the geologist Rink, remained there when the expedition departed, though the nascent colony was abandoned only two years later.


The Galathea proceeded to Southeast Asia, calling at Penang, Singapore, Batavia, and Manila before heading for the Chinese coast and visiting Hong Kong, Macau, Canton, Amoy, and Shanghai. An attempt to stop at Japan was rebuffed by the authorities there. The ship then crossed the Pacific Ocean, visiting the Hawaiian archipelago and Tahiti on the way to Valparaiso, Callao, and Lima in South America, before rounding Cape Horn. Further visits were made to Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, and Bahia, following which the Galathea returned to Denmark, anchoring in Copenhagen harbor on August 24 1847 after a voyage of more than two years. During the course of the voyage 20 Danish soldiers died and several others were discharged.


           The expedition returned with 93 containers of “zoological, entomological, botanical and geological objects”. There were also 21 boxes of ethnographic material, a large collection from Java, as well as gifts from scientists in many of the cities and ports visited by the expedition. The intention of King Christian VIII was to sponsor the publication of the scientific results of the expedition. However, the King died in January 1848 and the country was thrown into the Three Years’ War. Most of the boxes of collected items lay unopened for many years and, with some exceptions, were never properly processed, nor the full results formally published. The collections subsequently served mainly as reference material. 

Dr. Hinrich Johannes Rink, the man who kept the present journal, was a Danish geologist, one of the pioneers of glaciology, and the first accurate describer of the inland ice of Greenland. Rink, who first went to Greenland in 1848, spent 16 winters and 22 summers in the Arctic region, and became notable for Greenland’s development. Becoming a Greenlandic scholar and went on to become Director of the Royal Greenland Trading Department. With “Forstanderskaber”, Rink introduced the first steps towards Greenlandic home rule.


Rink carried out and printed in four volumes the first systematic collection of Greenlandic oral tradition stories. He was the founder of Atuagagdliutit, the first Kalaallisut language newspaper.


Rink was born in Copenhagen to Holstein parents. His father was Johannes Rink (1783-1865), a Kiel, Germany merchant, his mother was Agnese Margaretha (Hedde) Rink (1793-1865); both were from Dithmarschen. He had a brother, Johan Jacob Rink (1815-1849).

Rink was initially taught by a private teacher, he later went to study at the Sorø Academy. He studied physics and chemistry at the University of Kiel, receiving the university’s Gold Medal in chemistry in 1843. For a time, he served as Assistant Professor under William Christopher Zeise. He graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Copenhagen. Rink studied medicine during the winter of 1844-45, taking an anatomy course and listening to lectures in Berlin.



At the suggestion of Hans Christian Ørsted, it was in Berlin that he received an offer to participate as a mineralogist for the first of the Galathea expeditions aboard the Galathea. The voyage lasted from 1845-1847. Rink was intent on going to Calcutta, but he ended up in the Nicobar Islands, colonized by Denmark at the time, to investigate them geographically. After five months he fell ill with Nicobar Fever, which weakened him for the rest of his life. The present journal was written, and the maps drawn during the period Rink spent in the Nicobars. Rink apparently had some surveying and cartographical skills which he was to develop further in Greenland. On his return trip he stopped in Cairo and Malta, where, in October 1846, he collected geological materials. In 1847, his first major work, The Nicobarese islands, was published.


From 1848 until 1851, with public support, he went to Western Greenland for geological and glaciological studies at Upernavik and Umanak. Here he lived among the Kalaallit which gave him an opportunity to study them. But his objective was to create a map of Greenland based on the surveys that he performed and those of others. He was able to survey large areas of Western Greenland’s fjords and their glaciers. In the last year, he spent some time in Ilulissat and sailed to Paakitsoq, a bay in Western Greenland. He travelled by sledge to Sermeq Kujalleq in the spring of 1851. He mapped the Greenland coast, and made the first geological map of it. Rink’s surveys are notable as the series of ice margin change surveys that have lasted over 150 years. Rink returned to Copenhagen in 1851 where he took a seat in a Commission that dealt with the trade monopoly in Greenland. On behalf of the Commission, he went back to Greenland in 1852, and subsequently published the book About the monopoly of trade in Greenland.


The following year, he entered the service of the monopoly trade and was the first colonial administrator in Godthaab and Julienhåb. He studied the Arctic Ocean ice, its origins, movement and composition and in 1853, he published his essay, On the spread and movement of ice over the North Greenland mainland. From 1857-1868, he was a royal inspector of South Greenland. During his years as a civil servant, he published his main work, Greenland and statistically described geography, which is the first standard work on Greenland after Hans Egede’s “Perlustration” of 1729.


In 1855, Rink found the late 18th century printing press of missionary Jespar Brodersen and began printing small items, the first of which was a handbill dated 21 October 1855. Two years later, Rink acquired a small, Danish printing press and a lithographic press. Rink established a print shop in Godthaab in 1861, the South Greenland Press, and founded the first Greenlandic language newspaper, Atuagagdliutit (which means: “Readings”). Its first issue was published in January 1861, and it was published monthly thereafter. In addition to the newspaper, the print shop published pamphlets.


Rink actively cared for the welfare of the Inuit, with whom he had close contact. It was his idea and under his guidance, that the Commission’s board members were introduced, which ensured Greenlanders’ influence on their own affairs. In 1858, he called on local people to learn their artistic traditions. He helped discover and promote the artists Jens Kreutzmann and Aron of Kangeq. Rink studied the Greenlandic language and folklore; Eskimo tales and legends was published in 1866.


In 1868, forced to leave Greenland for health reasons, Rink again returned to Copenhagen. From 1871 until 1882, he served as Director of the Royal Greenland Trading Department. In that capacity, he headed the Greenlandic trade administration. In Copenhagen, he founded the Grønlæderhjem for young Inuit to learn a craft so they could more easily obtain employment.


Rink was a Corresponding Member of the Royal Geographical Society. He received the Silver Medal from the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters in 1852.