Monday, September 28, 2009


Small drawers and boxes for sorting and storing are not only a great aid to the collector but can also have immense charm. My personal favorites are the pigeonholes that are found in desks. I have a line of 8 drawings across the center of my cabinet that emulate these storage units. Each one addresses some aspect of an encyclopedic collection.

The small vase in the shape of a frog, a present from my daughter, not only introduces amphibians but also contains a flower that has hidden significance unless you know the Latin name and its reference. It is a spiderwort or Tradescantia which was named for the great gardener and cabinet of curiosities creator John Tradescant, 1570 - 1638.

He and his son assembled a collection known as The Ark. It was the first museum open to the public for an admission fee of 6d. It eventually became the basis for the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. (That story is fraught with intrigue and is fascinating on its own.) John Tradescant the younger documented their collection in a 178 page book, published in 1656, called Museum Tradescantianum: or, A Collection of Rarities Preserved at South Lambeth near London by John Tradescant.

Sir William Flower wrote in 1898, "The wonderful variety and incongruous juxtaposition of objects make the catalogue very amusing reading".

By doing this blog I am writing my own "Rarities" in a modern form before the information gets lost. It is amazing how fast facts fade from one's memory as the mind fills with the next exciting project

The other flower represented in a pigeonhole is the violet which is held by a tiny silver cup, part of a pair that was given to us as a wedding present. They are the only things we own that came from Tiffany's and I have never been sure what to do with them, other than to draw them. In this case the cup adds precious metal to the Rarities list.

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