59. Brilliant, Ruby, Sapphire: The Cabinet of Gems, by Samuel Batchelor

This week, meet one of my favourite items in Special Collections: The Cabinet of Gems, by Samuel Batchelor.

Gemstones, from The Cabinet of Gems by Samuel Batchelor (1840)

Its magnificent subtitle is: Vocabulary of Precious Stones, arranged according to their comparative value : together with a description of the largest known diamonds and coloured gems in the world; the commercial history of rough diamonds; an account of the pearl fishery and the regalias of England, Scotland &c.  Ours is the revised edition, printed in 1840 by W. Langdale of Knaresborough.

Diamonds, from The Cabinet of Gems by Samuel Batchelor (1840)

The Cabinet is an interesting book packed with quirky information, as the subtitle suggests.  I particularly like the fact it is printed in Yorkshire.  What I really love about this little volume though are the plates, especially the colourful illustration of gemstones, above.  I’ve re-used this many times (here and here, for example), to illustrate the point that Special Collections are themselves gems or treasures.  Sometimes they are hidden gems, uncatalogued and unknown; it is so rewarding to bring such collections to people’s knowledge, as we’re doing with this exhibition.

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