The Single most Valuable contribution to Wunderkammer Studies. The Complete 3 Volume Edition

Valentini, Michael Bernhard (1657-1729)

Museum Museorum, oder vollständige Schau-Bühne aller Materialien und Specereyen, nebst deren natürlichen Beschreibung. Aus andern Material-Kunst- und Naturalien-Kammern, Oost- und West-Indischen Reiss-Beschreibungen.

Frankfurt: heirs of Johann David Zunner and Johann Adam Jungen, 1714


Folio: 3 volumes in one. 38.5 x 24 cm. With two engraved titles, 95 engraved plates, of which many double-page, 287 engravings, and 5 woodcuts in text. Collation: Vol. I: π1 (half-title), 1 (engraved t.p.), π4, )(4; ) () (2, )( )( )(2, A-Z4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Ttt4, **2, A-I4, K2, π2, (A)-(P)4. Vol. II: π1 (half title), 1 (engraved t.p.), π4, )()( 6, A-Z4, Aa4, Bb2, a-o4, p2. Vol. III: π4, [A]-[Z]4, [Aa]-{Ff]4, [Gg]2, *4, **2, a6.

FIRST COMPLETE EDITION, comprising the second issue of Vol. I (first 1704) and the FIRST EDITIONS of Vol. II and Vol. III.

An excellent copy bound in contemporary stiff vellum. The contents are in excellent, clean condition. The plates and text printed on very good paper (unusual for this work, which is often browned.)

A complete three-volume copy of Valentini’s “Museum of museums”, a comprehensive survey of European Wunder- kunst- und Schatzkammern. “Valentini was the personal physician to the Margrave of Assia and professor of experimental science and medicine at Giessen. His 'Museum Museorum' is the single most valuable contribution to Wunderkammer studies as it reprints many early collection catalogues [many of which are completely unobtainable now] and gives a list of all the museums known to exist at the time (some 159). Valentini also includes a catalogue of his own cabinet at Giessen and illustrates the interior of the Royal Library and Raritäten-Kammer at Vienna and an unusual view of the bear pit (with an elaborate fountain, tree houses and spectators leaning over the enclosure) at the Dresden Zoo.

Valentini began his book by reprinting in its entirety the text of an earlier museological tract of 1674 by Johann Daniel Major (1636-1693). Major discussed the ways in which general collections (naturalia and artificialia) could be arranged, and addressed the basic question of why people collect. He listed the important collections known to him, and gave practical advice on specimen conservation, and on the study of museum materials. He recommended in particular that collectors prepare a catalog or "rarities book" to accompany their collection, describing not only their own specimens but also all other things that would be necessary to fill it out to optimal completeness. Major's work was the first widely circulated essay defining the various types of collections, and by 1700 the "rarities book" had become customary among collectors.

“The first volume deals with plants, animals, minerals and metals, their properties and commercial and medical use. The second volume covers stones, fossils, coins, tropical plants, shells, unicorns and monstrosities. Several plates give an early attempt at the reconstruction of fossils skeletons [including a unicorn]. A separate appendix, Ost Indianische Send-Schreiben, is a compilation from Rumph, Kaempfer, Ten Rhyn and others on the rarities, mostly botanical, of the East Indies. The third volume is devoted to experiments in physics and natural philosophy with fine illustrations of the apparatus, and concluding with a dissertation on the divining rod.‘The catalogues printed by Valentini are for the Royal Museum at Vienna, Treasury of the Abbey of St. Denis and the Anatomy Cabinet at St. Victoire, the Royal Museums at Copenhagen and Dresden, the Hesse-Cassel Museum, the Treasury of Loretto, relics in the Liebfraun Kirche at Aachen, the Royal Society of England, the anatomy theatres at Leyden and Amsterdam and the Garden Gallery at Leyden, Apothecary Petiver’s cabinet, the museums of Tobias Reymer of Lüneberg, C.M. Spener of Berlin, Lorentz von Aldershelm of Leipzig, the fossils of J.G. Kisner of Frankfurt, Gottfried Nicolai of Wittenberg, J.C. Ratzel of Halberstadt, the Museum Brackenhofferianum, Professor Weigel of Jena’s astronomical instruments, J.D. Major’s Kunstkammer and the cabinet of an unnamed collector which was for sale’ (Grinke, From Wunderkammer to Museum).

Cobres I p. 106 n. 9; Eales 1259; Ferguson II pp.493-95; Nissen BBI 2035 and ZBI 4217; Alden 714/146.