Skip to main content

Collector's box and teaching cabinet of Catherine Mary Stirling

 Collection
Identifier: Coll-1893

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of one Victorian wooden box, used for collecting and teaching, that belonged to Catherine Mary of Stirling, from Kippenross House, near Dunblane. It is still complete and fitted with 5 removable trays containing specimens of:
  1. Animal & Vegetable Substances (such as nut galls, Portuguese cork, a piece of tortoise shell, timber specimens, pearls, etc.)
  2. Minerals & Metals (such as marble, lead shot in glass bottle, pieces of jet, granite, agate, slate, a metal cube of tin ore, etc.)
  3. Manufactures & Raw Materials (such as specimens of tannin, leather shoe soles, morocco leather, sheepskin, English cotton, hemp in a glass bottle, different strength of rope, various pieces of glass and pottery, etc.)
  4. Gums & Miscellaneous (such as gum benzoin, gum myrrh, gum fragacanth, glue gelatin, Indian rubber, chalk, pieces of bone and horn, pieces of white and red coral, etc.)
  5. Bottles of Spices, Grains, etc. (this tray contains 26 large glass bottles and 6 smaller ones, each bottle contains one substance such as Cassia bark, indigo, camphor, jussia, unrefined sugar, manna, arrow root, piemente, saffron, coffee beans, sago, etc.)
These types of box were assembled for the collector's private use and amusement, and also used as a teaching tool for children: teaching and learning with, about and through materials, in the wake of the early educational reformers like Elizabeth Mayo. Each tray or glass bottle in her collector’s box has a piece of paper or card on which Catherine M. Stirling makes extensive manuscript notes about the use, use in manufacturing, origin, or any other interesting relevant information of the specimen; many of these notes are quite substantial.

Dates

  • 1847

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Physical Description

Mahogany box (387 x 236 x 212 mm) with 2 sturdy brass handles on sides, and original lock and key to front, with 5 removable trays, each with cloth loops on sides to facilitate getting them out, four trays with numerous snugly fitted white paper boxes of different sizes with one or more specimens, the bottom tray (fifth) with tightly packed glass bottles (two sizes), all specimens with extensive manuscript notes on card or paper; in excellent condition, with all specimens present, although the ivory piece has been taken out and a couple of bottles have been broken.

Conditions Governing Access

The box contains powders and organic material, and needs to handled with care, under supervision. Please contact the repository in advance if you would like to see this collection.

Biographical / Historical

Catherine Mary Stirling (née Wellings) (1819-1879) married John Stirling, 7th of Kippendavie, Laird of Kippenross House in 1839. They had three sons (Patrick, John, and William) and a daughter (Mary Catherine). They lived near Dunblane in Perthshire, Scotland. Catherine is the author of Pencil Sketches of Plant Leaves, 1861, kept at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Extent

0.5 linear metre

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased in September 2018. Accession no SC-Acc-2018-0182.

Physical Description

Mahogany box (387 x 236 x 212 mm) with 2 sturdy brass handles on sides, and original lock and key to front, with 5 removable trays, each with cloth loops on sides to facilitate getting them out, four trays with numerous snugly fitted white paper boxes of different sizes with one or more specimens, the bottom tray (fifth) with tightly packed glass bottles (two sizes), all specimens with extensive manuscript notes on card or paper; in excellent condition, with all specimens present, although the ivory piece has been taken out and a couple of bottles have been broken.

Processing Information

Catalogued by Aline Brodin in October 2018, using information from the seller.

Repository Details

Part of the Edinburgh University Library Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379