ERJ staff report (DS)
London -- Researchers behind the UK's QI programme hosted by Stephen Fry have looked into Rubber and published some 'Quite Interesting' facts about the material --mostly focussed on the 18th and 19th centuries.
Among those ERJ was not aware of: natural rubber was for a long time known as 'India Rubber' in the English language. At the time, the adjective Indian referred not to the Indian sub-continent, but instead referred to anywhere exotic. In this case Central America.
ERJ believed Sir Henry Wickham's adventure in Brazil was not in any way illegal, though the QI team appear to have listened to the widespread rumours that the seeds were smuggled out of Brazil in 1876. According to the book, 'Thief at the end of the World', by Joe Jackson -- probably the most comprehensive account of that period ever written -- local customs officials gave Sir Henry permission to export the seeds, believing he was trying to send only a few dozen seeds to Kew as scientific curiosities. When they learned that he was sending 70,000 seeds with the clear intention of setting up rival plantations, they tried to revoke the permission, but Sir Henry chartered a ship (the 'Amazonas') at short notice and took the seeds out of the country before the paperwork could be changed.
ERJ also did not know that the Wellington boot was designed by German nationals; named by an Irishman and first worn by French peasants.
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QI article from Telegraph.co.uk