Being a woman and a natural "gatherer and hoarder", I have always been drawn to curiosity cabinets. Their origins trace back to the 1500's with the first collections featuring oddities from the animal, mineral and vegetable kingdoms.
These early collections were precursors to science museums.
Collections evolved to contain religious artifacts, art and oddities from travel abroad. Featured in cabinets or on table tops, these curiosities would be focal points of parlors to spark conversation with guests that visited the room.
This is where I begin to salivate! In 2008, I attended one of the largest european decorative trade shows,Maison et Objet, where there is a entire section devoted to curiosities!
Maison et Objet Paris 2008
Rows of fossils and minerals on display stands along with groups of books bound with string were staples for collections.
Maison et Objet 2008
Corals, sponges and other marine creatures available to the trade.
If all of this is just clutter to you, consider the work of Andy Paiko. He offers a modern twist on curiosity collecting. Working with glass, he creates wonderful display domes often featuring glass coral in the stems.
Personally, I am looking for a taxidermist to replicate this "Shakespearean" mouse to cram into my already over cluttered collection! Whatever your passion, your home should invite people to touch and converse about your treasures!!
Special thanks goes to Lynne Rutter of The Ornamentalist. She provided me with the source for the "Hamlet Mouse"( found at Paxton Gate in San Franciso). Lynne, you made me very happy!