The Spice Island of Penang, 1834

By Ooi Kee Beng

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Ooi Kee Beng found the following account in The Singapore Chronicle from August 28, 1834. Reading it today provides us with a quick understanding of Penang’s fluctuating fortunes as a spice colony where cloves and nutmegs indigenous to the island were grown. By the 1840s, it was noted that Penang’s production of high quality nutmegs almost satisfied Great Britain’s total demand for the spice. However, a drastic turn in the fortunes of the spice farmers was at hand. As noted...

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Ooi Kee Beng

is the Executive Director of Penang Institute. His recent books include The Eurasian Core and its Edges: Dialogues with Wang Gungwu on the History of the World (ISEAS 2016). Homepage: