Biography

An Infinity of Things: How Sir Henry Wellcome Collected the by Frances Larson PDF

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By Frances Larson

ISBN-10: 0199554463

ISBN-13: 9780199554461

Richly illustrated all through, together with eight pages of colour plates, An Infinity of Things tells the tale of the best deepest assortment ever made, and the lifetime of the fellow in the back of it. American-born Henry Wellcome made his hundreds of thousands as one of many world's first pharmaceutical marketers. Drawing on his large wealth, he deliberate an excellent museum full of treasures from all corners of the globe, charting the background of human overall healthiness from prehistory to the current day. Demonstrating what can ensue while a collector's aspirations are left unconstrained by way of wealth, Frances Larson explores Wellcome's existence via his possessions, revealing the numerous tensions in his personality: among his abilities as a businessman and his hope for scholarly reputation; his interest and his perfectionism; and his philanthropic aspirations and his force for private glory. through the establishing a long time of the 20 th century he got a set so huge that later generations of employees took to describing its contents by means of the ton. yet Wellcome's museum was once by no means complete, and his assortment used to be nonetheless kept in mammoth warehouses whilst he died, unseen and incomplete.

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Additional resources for An Infinity of Things: How Sir Henry Wellcome Collected the World

Sample text

Nor was his desire to chart the broad historical sweep of his subject particularly extraordinary in itself, especially as he took a pragmatic approach to achieving his goal and decided to employ specialized researchers to carry out much of the groundwork for him. ’18 He worried that other people might be working on similar material and publish before him. So he decided to hire a researcher. In late 1895 he came to an agreement with Dr William Brown, ‘a very able medical gentleman in London’, to begin working on the proposed book, but it was not until the summer of the following year that the project really took oV.

Indeed, his oYce had the appearance of a bachelor’s den because his collecting instincts merged the two spheres of his life, professional and private, inextricably together. Objects—the books, prints, prototypes, and historical artefacts he acquired—came to shape his commercial projects as well as his personal taste. Burroughs had cause to grumble that Wellcome had spent more time and money on his ‘antiquarian studies’ than his business interests while on a trip to Spain in 1894,17 and the truth is that a great deal can be learned of Wellcome’s innate interest in material culture from his professional dealings during these years.

A VERY FULL AND COMPLETE VOLUME 39 knew all the tricks of the trade, and enjoyed outwitting auctioneers and rival collectors while hunting for the perfect acquisition. He also proved to be a conWdent manager, and took charge of a burgeoning museum staV during the early 1900s with aplomb. But all this was still in the future. The contract Thompson signed in the closing weeks of the nineteenth century was purposefully vague when it came to designating a job title. ‘We hardly think it necessary to state either in the agreement or the accompanying letter, the designation of the position you will occupy’, wrote Wellcome’s secretary.

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An Infinity of Things: How Sir Henry Wellcome Collected the World by Frances Larson


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