Cabinet of Natural Curiosities

“Seba’s scenic illustrations, often mixing plants and animals in a single plate, were unusual even for the time. Many of the stranger and more peculiar creatures from Seba’s collection, some of which are now extinct, were as curious to those in Seba’s day as they are to us now.”

The vivid images from this huge book are more stunning than this sentence – this is a book to see more than read. Albertus Seba (1665 – 1736) was a Dutch pharmacist, zoologist and collector who has become known for his large and beautiful book Cabinet of Natural Curiosities. He was passionate about collecting and went to the docks when ships came in to get new specimens from sailors. The illustrations in Cabinet of Natural Curiosities show Seba’s specimens, from shells and snakes, artfully arranged. Each could be framed and hung as art. The cover image of red coral has “crossed over” and can now be found on objects in home decorating stores (and even the file folders on my desk). This prized natural history book costs around $200.

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