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Vintage Publications

Illustrated London News   Family Circle   National Geographic   The Mentor

 Heralding the arrival of what may have been the very first import of llamas into the United Kingdom, this is undoubtedly one of the most important items in our lamarabilia collection... 

ILN Front cover illustration
Click image for enlargement

The Illustrated London News 
July 1858

Flock of Llamas just imported from Peru

The article text:-
"On the preceding page we have given an Engraving of the Flock of Llamas imported by Mr. Benjamin Whitehead Gee direct from Peru. They are all of excellent health and condition and of ages from three weeks to three years. There are twenty three females.
   The introduction of this flock has been attended with some risk and misfortune. They started from Peru overland to Guaquil, thence to Panama across the Isthmus to Aspinwall, and travelled on foot nearly 4000 miles. The principal mortality occurred on the Isthmus where from want of food, hot weather, snakes, scorpions &c, some twenty of them died. From Aspinwall to Baltimore they were shipped in a small vessel, and from exposure, two of the lambs died, but since their arrival in New York they have thrived and are now all in good condition. On the passage to Glasgow there was one added to the flock.
   The llamas stand the change of weather much better than was anticipated and appear to be easily wintered..
   The whole of this flock, even to a lamb five months old, are broken to halter, and are very docile and tractable; their countenances exhibit marked expressions of intelligence, the eyes are large and bright, and their sight is keen.
   Before closing our remarks we cannot but express our opinion that great credit is due to the importer of these animals for the trouble and risk he has taken in introducing so valuable a flock of llama. They have cost nearly 3000, and we hope that his exertions will not go unrewarded."

  Whether or not  Benjamin Whitehead Gee was sufficiently rewarded for his pioneering efforts we may never know; and sadly the name of this great entrepreneur who walked his llamas four thousand miles to introduce them into the UK, had been forgotten and lost to the UK camelid community.

We hope our discovery of this article will help put this right!