Box Full of Butterfly Wings--Lovely Victorian Case of Glass Specimen Slides

Regular price $250.00

A total delight to find this at Brimfield--a quintessentially Victorian set of 36 glass microscope slides, still laid in their original wooden trays, which stack perfectly to fill their perfectly preserved dovetailed box, which latches at the front to hold them all inside. What makes this set especially special, though, is that the vast majority of the slides hold carefully clipped specimens of butterfly wings--a case of wonders. 

I could write a lot about this-- a perfect embodiment of 2nd half of the 19th century obsession with with scientific discovery and nature (especially capturing it in and bringing it inside), with collecting and viewing slides like this becoming a form of popular entertainment. And, it seems to me, if there were ever a perfect embodiment of the desire to capture and possess nature in all its beauty and wonder, it would be the in the form of the butterfly...magical feeling, free fluttering and evasive things sacrificed in order to be gloriously encased in glass and framed in pink and gold forever! (Very Nabakovian.) In this set, too, are several seaweed specimen slides, which look very much homemade (I'd guess the butterfly slides were professionally done) which make me believe this was a young woman's collection, who went out gathering the seaweed herself to add to the collection here--freedom for her, captivity for the specimens! Anyway, a special and also richly symbolic thing I think, beautifully preserved and complete.

Box measures 8 1/4" x 4 3/8" x 1 3/4". Slides measure 3" x 1". All in good condition, no broken slides as far as I can seen, light toning and soiling here and there. The wood framing is a bit loose on one tray (holding a combo of pink and blue slides)-- no real matter, and easily glued if desired.