Curiosity Cabinet…for real

I’ve been looking for a display cabinet for the past few months so I can create a curiosity cabinet. I knew what I wanted and the only ones I found that came close cost between $3,000-5,000. That was somewhat outside of my budget but I accepted that if I had to wait  a long time to get the exact right cabinet, then I would and price was not a factor.

That was of course until Brendan found the exact right cabinet in a little antique shop in Shepparton, of all places. For those who don’t know, Shepparton is a three hour drive from Melbourne, and is not necessarily a major stop on the tourist route. It’s more like a rural centre where local farmers come to buy supplies and so forth.

After sending me photos of the cabinet and then telling me the price, which was very reasonable, I thought it was worth it to devote one Saturday to make the drive to Shepparton to look at the cabinet. All went well on the drive last weekend and we came home with the cabinet…just. In order to fit it into the car we had to push the front seats as far forward as they could go. We looked like two pygmies driving back down the highway with this cabinet in the back.

We got it home and I have been dutifully filling it over the past week. Now that it’s nearly full I think I need another one.

Curiosity Cabinet

Here it is at full length. It’s about 180cm high and only about 25cm deep, which is perfect for the space we needed to fill. It’s hard to photograph it at full length because it’s in a narrow hallway entrance.

Cabinet inside 1Inside are lots of treasures, like you can see here: porcelain half dolls, a small handbound book made from a tintype photo by Judy Wilkenfeld, cast bronze creeping hands, various antique French medallions including one of Marie Antoinette, various dageurrotype photographs in their original ornate cases, a seagull skull, a jar of tiny teeny shells, a few eggs and sea urchins.

Cabinet inside 2

 A collection of beach finds including sea grass, urchins, bones, sticks, rocks and shells. Serge thinks the sticks are for him and he is always trying to get his head into the cabinet whenever I open the doors.

 It’s nice to great little vignettes with random objects – in this case an old dageurrotype and an antique blue glass bottle with dried poppy pods inside.

Cabinet inside 4

 Here is a collection of small antique glass bottles, an old French framed picture, a daguerrotype and a little porcelain mermaid – most likely an old aquarium ornament.

 Some old miniature tintype albums, an antique French classical plaster cast, a solid silver French bird, a deer horn I found in a forest in France 20 years ago, a set of Empire French perfume bottles, a half doll with a decorate wax crown.

 Three antique frozen Charlotte dolls looking like zombies caught in a glass dome. Behind is a segment of very old stained glass that I am trying to position so that the light shines through it and shows its lovely old detail.


 A close-up of an earlier shot of some beach finds with a little vintage French model car and a beautiful French Empire bronze and glass vase with sea horses inside.


 A close up of the creeping hands, the Judy Wilkenfeld tintype book and the porcelain half doll.


 A collection of antique miniatures: Marie Antoinette bronze medallion, French 1813 hand painted miniature portrait, antique plaster angel face, another antique miniature portrait painted on ivory and in a brass frame, a daguerrptype photo without a case.


 The phrenology head I bought at Wunderkammer in Melbourne, an ostrich egg, some antique millinery flowers in a vase.

I have some other treasures on their way to me from overseas and I am always looking for new things to add. I am sure I have a box of things somewhere that I could fill another cabinet with, but for the life of me I can’t find it.

2 responses to “Curiosity Cabinet…for real

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