A collection of natural history specimens. Choices include coral, sea shells, minerals, ostrich eggs, and butterflies. Some are in decorative arts mounts. Examples from our current selection are shown above. Please inquire for additional choices.
Collecting natural history specimens began among doctors and pharmacists in the 16th century, and was taken up by European aristocrats. It continued as a popular hobby for the well-to-do through the 19th century. The craze for amassing collections of shells, insects, taxidermic specimens of animals and minerals was fueled by the Enlightenment mindset of the 18th century, which was preoccupied with creating comprehensive systems of classifying natural phenomena. This ideal was fueled by the exploration of distant territories that could only be reached by ship, where species hitherto unknown to Europeans were discovered and documented. The impulse to classify was accompanied by a fascination with exotic species, and also with oddities and aberrations such as two-headed snakes. Read more in our online article about Collector's Cabinets.