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Title:
Specimens of articles in common use.
Published/Created:
Great Britain, between 1840 and 1860?
Physical Description:
1 box (141 specimens) ; 16 x 25 x 9 cm and 1 volume (14 leaves) ; 11 cm
Holdings:
Rare Books and Manuscripts
LB1519 .S64 Flat (Cabinet S)
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: As a COVID-19 precaution, the Study Room is closed until further notice.

Copyright Status:
Copyright Information
Related Content:
View description of a similar educational specimen box at the Victoria & Albert Museum
View catalog record for Thomas E. Dexter's Animal and vegetable substances used in the arts and manufactures (1857)
Classification:
Three-Dimensional Artifacts
Notes:
Box of 141 small specimens, predominantly natural, by an unidentified compiler, mid-19th century. The box is accompanied by a small manuscript booklet, bearing the title and a numbered list of all 141 specimens present (written in neat cursive). The specimens are distributed in three trays stacked inside the box; silk ribbons attached to each tray facilitate their removal. Each tray has a dense network of custom-sized compartments, with dividers covered in dark red paper. Each small compartment bears a printed number (on white paper), keying the specimen to the entry in the accompanying booklet. Most specimens are loosely placed in the compartments; some are in stoppered glass vials.
The collection of specimens was used as a teaching aid, following Pestalozzian principles of education introduced in Britain by Elizabeth and Charles Mayo. Object lessons (or object-teaching) emphasized the importance of observation as a tool for students' understanding of more advanced concepts. In 1830, Elizabeth Mayo first published Lessons on objects, providing guidance for teachers on how to lead classroom exercises focused on individual objects such as the specimens in the present box. Mayo's work would be republished in scores of editions through the 1870s and imitated by others, such as Charles Dexter, whose Animal and vegetable substances used in the arts and manufactures (first published in 1857) provided similar guidance, without reference to Mayo or Pestalozzi (see link herewith). The published lessons by Mayo and Dexter both included advertisements for mahogany "cabinets" such as the box described here, offered by merchants in London (from 1 to 3 pounds, depending on complexity). It is possible that the present box was originally assembled by such a merchant, or compiled by an amateur in imitation of such cabinets. A similar specimen box is also present in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum (B.5:1 to 5-2009; see link herewith).
The box's brass hinges are inscribed "P.M. & Co., patent."
Restricted fragile material. Use requires permission of the Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts.
Contents:
First tray. Animal: 1. Honey-comb -- 2. Bee's wax -- 3. Cochineal -- 4. Cantharides -- 5. Whalebone -- 6. Spermaceti -- 7. Glue -- 8. Isinglass -- 9. Leather -- 10. Skins -- 11. Catgut -- 12. Hair -- 13. Horn -- 14. Mother of pearl -- 15. Bone -- 16. Tortoishell -- 17. Ivory -- 18. Cocoon -- 19. Silk, raw -- 20. Silk, velvet -- 21. Silk, chenille &c. -- 22. Silk, spun -- 23. Silk, lace -- 24. Silk, woven -- 25. Sponge -- 26. Coral -- 27. Wool -- 28. Wool, Berlin -- 29. Woolen cloth -- 30. Felt -- Vegetable: 31. Pimento -- 32. Mace -- 33. Nutmeg -- 34. Cloves -- 35. Cinnamon -- 36. Ginger -- 37. Cassia buds -- 38. Pepper -- 39. White pepper -- 40. Long pepper -- 41. Chillies -- 42. Cayenne -- 43. Mustard -- 44. Carraways -- 45. Coffee -- 46. Coffee roasted -- 47. Coriander -- 48. Manna Kroupe -- 49. Tapioca -- 50. Rice -- 51. Arrowroot -- 52. Sago., Second tray. 53. Linseed -- 54. Flax -- 55. Flax, Irish -- 56. Flax, spun -- 57. Thread -- 58. Lace work'd -- 59. Lace -- 60. Tapes &c. -- 61. Linen -- 62. Hemp -- 63. Tow -- 64. String -- 65. Cord -- 66. Canvas -- 67. Flowers -- 68. Wheat -- 69. Bran -- 70. Pollard -- 71. Flour -- 72. Bread -- 73. Sassagna -- 74. Starch -- 75. Semolina -- 76. Vermicelli -- 77. Wafers -- 78. Macaroni -- 79. Iceland moss -- 80. Cardomons -- 81. Cocoa-bean -- 82. Cotton -- 83. Cotton, Nankeen -- 84. Cotton, reeled -- 85. Cotton, velvet -- 86. Cotton, woven -- 87. Cotton, tapes &c. -- 88. Cotton, bindings -- 89. Cotton, lace -- 90. Cotton, card &c. -- 91. Chamomile -- 92. Tea (orange pekoe) -- 93. Sassafras -- 94. Buckwheat -- 95. Barley -- 96. Barley, pearl -- 97. Rye -- 98. Maize -- 99. Oats -- 100. Tares -- 101. Millet -- 102. Peas., and Third tray. 103. Gypsum & plaister of Paris -- 104. Soap, barilla, seaweed -- 105. Ink powder. Green copperas, gall nut, gum arabic -- 106. Papers -- 107. Sealing wax. Shell-lac. Resin & vermillion -- 108. German tinder -- 109. Asbestos -- 110. Coal & coke. Cinder (burnt Bank of England notes) -- Dyes: 111. Indigo -- 112. Alkanet -- 113. Archill -- 114. Saffron -- 115. Logwood -- 116. Gamboge -- 117. Madder -- 118. Alum -- 119. Caoutchouc -- 120. Camphor -- 121. Guaicum -- 122. Copal -- 123. Benzoin -- 124. Tragacanthe -- 125. Frankincense -- 126. Myrrh -- 127. Aloes -- 128. Mastic -- Wood: 129. Rose -- 130. Holly -- 131. Royal George -- 132. Straw -- 133. Bog oak -- 134. Satin -- 135. Ebony -- Barks: 136. Cascarilla -- 137. Soap tree -- 138. Cork -- Roots: 139. Gentian -- 140. Cerris -- 141. Hellebare.
Subject Terms:
Animal products -- Specimens.
Dyes and dyeing -- Specimens.
Education -- Great Britain.
Minerals -- Specimens.
Natural history -- Study and teaching.
Object-teaching.
Pestalozzi, Johann Heinrich, 1746-1827.
Plants -- Specimens.
Science -- Study and teaching.
Spices -- Specimens.
Textile fabrics -- Specimens.
Women in natural history.
Wood -- Specimens.
Contributors:
Mayo, Elizabeth, 1793-1865.
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