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

Hardcover | October 10, 2009

byFrances Larson

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An Infinity of Things tells the story of one of the largest private collections ever created, and the life of the man behind it. Wellcome planned a great museum filled with treasures from all corners of the globe, charting the history of human health from prehistory to the present day. Thebreadth of his vision was matched only by the depth of his pockets. During the opening decades of the twentieth century he acquired a collection so large that later generations of staff took to describing its contents by the ton. But Wellcome's museum was never finished, and his collection was still stored in vast warehouses when he died, unseen and incomplete.Today, after decades of work by his successors, artefacts from the collection can be seen in museums and libraries throughout the world. Demonstrating what can happen when a collector's aspirations are left unconstrained by wealth, Frances Larson explores Wellcome's life through his possessions, revealing the many tensions in his character: between his talents as a businessman and his desire for scholarly recognition; his curiosityand his perfectionism; and his philanthropic aspirations and his drive for personal glory.

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An Infinity of Things tells the story of one of the largest private collections ever created, and the life of the man behind it. Wellcome planned a great museum filled with treasures from all corners of the globe, charting the history of human health from prehistory to the present day. Thebreadth of his vision was matched only by the d...

Frances Larson is Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at Durham University.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.04 inPublished:October 10, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199554463

ISBN - 13:9780199554461

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Table of Contents

1. Quite indescribable disorderPart One: Roots2. Herewith please find three rolls of chocolate foil3. A very full and complete volume4. The ideal of my heartPart Two: Tactics5. An historical exhibition of rare and curious objects6. Excuse me Mr Treve7. Fellow feeling as a collector8. The whole of India should be ransacked9. An impossible man to deal withPart Three: Outcomes10. The finest historical medical museum in the world11. When the whole is complete, it will be an exact facsimile of the original12. This is the History of Medicine13. All tied up in knots14. We need very complete collections of all their fabrications15. This International Historical MuseumPart Four: Legacies16. Shelve it17. Ingrained habits of cautiousness18. Sir Henry Wellcome is dead19. Honour to whom honour is dueNotesBibliographyIndex