Cabinets of Curiosities were encyclopaedias of physical information that were particularly popular in the 17th and 18th centuries; the cabinet was usually a room and the curiosities the culmination of individual research. Collections for the sake of collecting, they reflected the collector’s interests and recorded items yet without category at a time when myth was touching upon reality and science testing the limits of belief. In England perhaps the most famous example of such a cabinet is the collection of Sir Hans Sloane, the foundation of the British Museum.
This page represents only a small part of our vast collection of original Antique prints. Please click on an image to see it in high-resolution, with details of the work itself. If you have a special request or are looking for something out of the ordinary, please do contact us.
Sea Serpent: Scoliophis Atlanticus from the 1734 eyewitness account of Hans Egede Bishop of Greenland.
Hoga or Andura: Legendary South American monster fish Thevet claimed himself to have seen on his travels. With text in French.
View of an equestrian performance at Astley’s Amphitheatre:. Former cavalryman Philip Astley is considered the father of the modern circus with his invention of the circus ring at his riding school in 1768.
The Moskstraumen or Maelstom, a system of fast moving whirpools in the Lofoten archipelago Norway, first mentioned by the ancient Greek historian Pytheas (4th century BC).
Giraffe: Two men leading it by a halter. Not seen in Europe since the time of Julius Caesar, a giraffe was presented to Cosimo dei Medici in 1485; another would not be seen until the mid 19th century. With text in French.
Skeleton and fourth order of muscles by Jan Wandelaar: Anterior view with Clara, the Indian Rhinoceros, a celebrity in the 18th century.
SOLD. Dendera: Egyptian Planisphere from the ceiling of a shrine dedicated to the god Osiris in the temple of Hathor at Dendera. Renowned as the only complete map of an ancient sky.
Mount Tarawera: Spectacular depiction from Waitangi at Lake Tarawera of the catastrophic eruption in 1886.
SOLD. Dendera: Temple of Hathor. Egyptian Zodiac from the ceiling of a shrine dedicated to the god Osiris in the temple of Hathor at Dendera. Renowned as the only complete map of an ancient sky.
SOLD. Rhinoceros: Brought from India in 1515 to Manuel I King of Portugal, this was the first Rhinoceros seen in Europe since antiquity. After Albrecht Durer with text in Latin.
Neptune in a chariot of Chama shell drawn by sea horses attended by mermaids. A merman blows a Murex Tritonis, On the shore two Nereides crowned with seaweed assort festoons.
Skeleton and fourth order of muscles by Jan Wandelaar: Posterior view with Clara, the Indian Rhinoceros, a celebrity in the 18th century.
Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger). Thylacinus cynocephalus. A pair captured near Launceston and drawn from life at the Zoological Society’s Vivarium. Extinct in the wild by 1930, the last captive died in 1936.
SOLD Sea Kraken: Giant Octopus based on the naturalist Pierre Denys Montford
SOLD. Aztec Calendar: The Serpent, symbol of the calendar, surrounds the 4 year-bearers (Tochtli, Cagli, Tecpatl and Acatl), the moon phases and the symbols for the 18 month year and 52 year century.
Shooting Flying: The first mention of shooting flying birds rather than perched birds is by Blome. The new fashion probably began with the return of Charles II from exile.
King Outina of the Timucua consulting his magician prior to battle. Based on the 1591 engraving after Jacques le Moyne de Morgues, artist on René de Laudonnière’s 1564 expedition.
SOLD. Key to the illusionistic circular battle panorama of Trafalgar exhibited by Henry Barker, now lost. The viewer stepped up into the center illuminated by daylight to be given the sense of being in the midst of the battle. A miniature version of the original panorama is at Greenwich, c1820 by William Heath and is the only known surviving example. The circular illusion panorama was invented by Robert Barker.
Britons (Aborigines of England). Couple armed, tattooed and painted with woad.
Sea Serpent: Scoliophis Atlanticus according to the Danish historian Erik Pontoppidan 1755.
1-6. Pantomimes in disguise. 7. Morrice dancing.
SOLD. Hindu Zodiac: The outer ring consists of the twelve signs of the zodiac. with constellations of different names but comparable to those of Western traditions (Pisces, Aries, Scorpio, etc.). The inner ring of the zodiac represents the Sun, the five naked-eye planets, and the Moon and its ascending and descending nodes. Each of the celestial bodies is associated with a Hindu deity. 1. The Sun (Shiva). 2. The Moon (Uma). 3. Mars (Skanda, the son of Shiva). 4. Mercury (Vishnu). 5. Jupiter (Brahman). 6. Venus (Indra). 7. Saturn (Yama). 8. Dragon’s head (ascending node). 9. Dragon’s tail (descending node). The celestial bodies orbit around Mt. Meru, the mythological five-peaked mountain at the centre of the physical and spiritual universe in Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist cosmology.
Dodo with Guinea Pig: After the life painting by Jan Savery. Edwards elegant depiction of the rather dumpy Dodo, extinct by 1662, became the basis for subsequent illustrations including that in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Aloes: Legendary monster goose fish inhabiting the coast of Hispaniola. With text in French.
Palm: Date Palm Phoenix dactylifera: Men harvesting the fruit. With text in French.
Narwhal: Hunting the whale. Thevet presented a Narwal horn to the Abbey of St Denis Paris as a gift from the King of Mutapa. With text in French.
SOLD. Sarmatian Sea (BalticSea) Snail: Giant snail with feet and whiskers. With text in French.
Doctors in Labour: Satire of the celebrated case of Mary Toft, who convinced several eminent physicians she had given birth to rabbits.