Did your granny have a glass cabinet full of precious little things a bit like this one?
Most people used to have a place where they displayed their bits of porcelain and other special things which they would take out and look at once in a blue moon. I think these harked back to the Renaissance when wealthy people would have a whole room kitted out to display their collections on a theme.
By Victorian times these elite rooms had been democratised so that most middle class families would have a display cabinet in which they would keep curiosities, usually from the natural world. These could be gruesome like a collection of shrunken human heads, skulls and bones,
to stuffed animals, fossils and exotica from all over the Empire.
They were called – a Cabinet of Curiosities – what else.
This one makes no bones about its contents,
but shells and eggs and bits of coral were also popular items.
If you went to the exhibition of the work by designer Alexander McQueen you would have seen the display in the V&A based on a large scale Cabinet of Curiosities. It’s a Period Feature which I think we can all have fun with at home.
Male your own display of things which fascinate you,
Or buy an antique one – they will be a talking point!