(K. Brent Tomer),
Collecting the World: The Life and Curiosity of Hans Sloane. By James Delbourgo. Allen Lane; 503 pages; £25. To be published in America by Belknap in July; $35.
JOINED-UP words and sentences with verbs are not enough to describe Sir Hans Sloane. Only a list can do justice to this man, who was both quite remarkable and, to some, a little touched. Over the course of a lifetime, he managed to accumulate 3,516 volumes of manuscripts, as well as books of prints, which together amounted to 50,000 volumes; 32,000 medals and coins; 5,843 testacea and shells; 173 starfish; 12,506 vegetable substances and 55 mathematical instruments. This is just a selection from Sloane’s collection, much of which he eventually catalogued himself.
Or try this: “a set of surgeons’ instruments made from fish-skin; inks and inkhorns; face-paint; medicinal powders and pills; women’s shoes made of leather and silk; gold and silver pins and needles for the…Continue reading