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Albertus Seba showing a lizard in the bottle


Albertus Seba (May 12 1665, Etzel near Friedeburgmarker - May 2 1736, Amsterdammarker) was a Dutch pharmacist, zoologist and collector.

Born in East-Frisia, Seba moved to Amsterdam as an apprentice and opened around 1700 a pharmacy near the harbour. Seba asked sailors and ship surgeons to bring exotic plants and animal products he could use for preparing drugs. Seba also started to collect snakes, birds, insects, shells and lizards in his house. From 1711 he delivered drugs to the Russian court in Saint Petersburgmarker and sometimes accepted fresh ginger as payment. Seba promoted his collection with the head-physician to the czar, Robert Arskine, and early 1716 Peter the Great bought the complete collection. Seven months later seventeen trunks arrived in Russia. With Seba as an intermediate, Frederik Ruysch, a famous botanist, again sold his collection to the czar. A special building was designed, and from 1728 till 1830 both collections were exposed in the Kunstkammermarker. With the acquisition of the two collections, the Russian Academy of Sciences had two modern, very well-documented collections at its disposal.

View of the Kunstkammer across the Neva.


In 1728 Seba had become a member of the Royal Society. In 1735 Linnaeus visited him twice.In 1734 Seba had published a Thesaurus of animal specimens with beautiful engravings.The full name of the Thesaurus is, with a dual LatinDutch title, Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri accurata descriptio — Naaukeurige beschryving van het schatryke kabinet der voornaamste seldzaamheden der natuur (Accurate description of the very rich thesaurus of the principal and rarest natural objects). The last two of the four volumes were published after his death (1759 and 1765). Today, the original 446-plate volume is on permanent exhibit at the Koninklijke Bibliotheekmarker in The Haguemarker, Netherlandsmarker. Recently, a complete example of the Thesaurus sold for US $460,000 at an auction. In 2001, Taschen Books published a reprint of the Thesaurus.

References

  1. In 1752, several years after his death, Seba's second collection went on auction in Amsterdam. The Petersburg Academy hastened to try and buy several objects.


Sources

  • Driessen, J. (1996) Tsaar Peter de Grote en zijn Amsterdamse vrienden.
  • Driessen-Van het Reve, J.J. (2006) De Kunstkamera van Peter de Grote. De Hollandse inbreng, gereconstrueerd uit brieven van Albert Seba en Johann Daniel Schumacher uit de jaren 1711-1752.
  • Holthuis, L.B. (1969) Albertus Seba's „Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri...." (1734-1765) and the „Planches de Seba" (1827-1831), Zoologische Mededelingen, Vol. 43, p. 239-252 PDF


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