Being the efficient person that I am, I only just now got around to re-organizing my cabinet of curiosities for the first time after moving to a new apartment in July. It took a few months and a sudden burst of energy, but now the cabinet is presentable once more! To celebrate this, I thought it would be nice to introduce my humble collection of curious items. So, without further ado…
On the topmost shelf there are (from left to right): the package of my first cello rosin (kept for sentimental reasons), a split nautilus shell, an early 1900’s voodoo doll from Ecuador (or so it was sold to me, at least), a beetle in a box, a raccoon skull and a skull of some spaniel, behind which there is a box holding five different beetles, next to which there are yet more beetles in boxes, and on top of these, a pair of antique protective glasses.
The middle shelf is more crowded (again, from left to right, more or less): a taxidermied weasel, antique medicine bottles, a skull of a small-clawed otter, a 19th century morphine needle, Dolores the magpie, a crumbled old chestnut, a cat skull (missing the upper canines, sadly), a 19th century microscope, another cat skull, miscellaneous bottles in the back, a magpie skull, a muskrat skull in a box, an alligator skull, a skull of a huge rabbit, a fox skull, a 18th century illustration of the development of an insect, and the storage box of the aforementioned microscope, on top of which there is a skull of a marten and a Venetian carnival mask.
And on the third shelf: a ball made of glass, a shell that has been cut open to show the internal structure, various other shells and conches, the felted figurines of two of our cats, a hexagonal pyramid made of green glass (because why not), large and rusted iron nails dating from the 18th century, Mr. Cottonbum (a mouse I
taxiderbied taxidermied myself), a sea star, a quill, a century-old fragile moth in a box, another conch, a fossil of an ammonite, a clock and a couple of pocket watches (none of which are old or valuable, but pretty nonetheless) and another sea star.
The one question I get asked the most often by people who are viewing my cabinet is “Where do you get all this stuff?“. The answer is I find the items here and there – mostly from antique fairs, flea markets, and small obscure boutiques. Some I have been given as a gift, some I have brought abroad, others I have crossed paths with by accident. It has taken years to collect these items, and despite that my collection is still quite tiny (some of the items I consider to be a part of it are not in the cabinet itself, though, and thus not presented here).
Also, it is not unusual that people who see my curiosity cabinet for the first time make remarks like “that stuff is so creepy“. Once, however, someone just said “oh, you seem to like nature“, and that made me so happy, because that is essentially what my eagerness to keep this collection stems from! I don’t aim to collect just “creepy things”, but things that are beautiful – and there undeniably is beauty in nature, biology, medicine, science, art and history.