Books: Seba Cabinet of Curiosities

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Books: This month our book delves into the strange world of one Albertus Seba.

Cabinet of Natural Curiosities: Cabinet of Natural Curiosities is one of the 18th century’s greatest natural history achievements and remains one of the most prized natural history books of all time. Though scientists of his era often collected natural specimens for research purposes, Amsterdam-based pharmacist Albertus Seba (1665–1736) was unrivalled in his passion. His amazing collection of animals, plants and insects from all around the world earned him international fame.

In 1731, after decades of collecting, Seba commissioned careful and often scenic illustrations of every specimen. With these meticulous drawings, he arranged for the publication of a four-volume catalogue, covering the entire collection from strange and exotic plants to snakes, frogs, crocodiles, shellfish, corals, birds and butterflies, as well as creatures that are now extinct. Taken from a rare hard-core original, the best-selling collection features an introduction that contextualizes the fascinating tradition of natural collections to which Seba’s curiosities belonged.

The authors: Irmgard Müsch, born in 1967, studied art history, history, and classical archaeology in Mainz and Berlin. Her PhD thesis from 1999 examines Johann Jakob Scheuchzer’s Kupfer-Bibel, a richly illustrated scientific commentary on the Bible from the early 18th century. She has published on art of the 18th and 20th centuries, scientific illustrations and Kunstkammer pieces.

Jes Rust, born 1963, completed his studies in geology, palaeontology and zoology at Göttingen and Kiel. His thesis dealt with the evolution of fossil snails living in the fresh and brackish waters of prehistoric Greece. His assistantship at the Institute of Zoology in Göttingen between 1993 and 1999 was followed by his appointment in 2001 as professor of invertebrate palaeontology and insect phylogeny at the University of Bonn.

Rainer Willmann holds a chair in zoology at Göttingen University, is director of its Zoological Museum and is co-founder of its Centre for Biodiversity and Ecology Research. A specialist in phylogenetics and evolution, he conducts research into biodiversity and its history.

“The eye-popping displays leave us in awe of the diversity of the natural world, as well as the engravers’ skill in producing these beautifully detailed plates.” The Huffington Post Multilingual Edition: English, French, German. 592 pages

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