Lot 1146 in our upcoming Clocks, Musical & Scientific Instruments auction is a very unusual find indeed. It is what is known as Biblical Herbarium and contains (as the chest helpfully notes) a number of ‘specimens of the plants, fruits, seeds, gums, etc. mentioned in the bible.’
Despite what popular thought may lead you to believe, the study of plants and animals in Victorian England was encouraged by the Church who considered that increasing knowledge and understanding could only further the interest in God's creations. Indeed, Henry Baker Tristam (author of the pamphlet that was released in conjunction with the Herbarium), was a clergyman, Church Missionary, member of the Royal Society, and an initial backer of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. He firmly believed that science and religion were mutually supportive vocations.
The herbarium contained a number specimens of plants found in the Holy Land including 'The Christ Thorn', the plant from which it was believed that the Crown of Thorns was made prior to the crucifixion, and the pamphlet explained the Biblical references as well as providing scholarly information.
Priced at 2 guineas, a considerable sum in today’s money, the herbarium was purchased by many schools, universities and wealthy amateur naturalists and was used in the growing Sunday School movement to stoke children’s imaginations and increase wonder in God’s creations.
This rare and unusual piece comes with an estimate of £300-500, a not too far equivalent of what it would have cost when it was first produced in 1897!
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