Wondertoonel der Nature

This image comes from Wondertooneel der Nature, an early 18th century book showcasing the cabinet of curiosity of a Dutch cloth merchant named Levinus Vincent. BibliOdyssey posted more pages from Vincent's book and also an except from a modern article titled "Scientific Symmetries" by Emma Spary that contains more background on the collection and collector. From that article:
 39262 2708082730102177954S600X600Q85 "Rather than presenting himself as the author, Vincent sought to use the printed page as a way of displaying the authorship of the natural world. Descriptions of his remarkable collection and copper-plate engravings intervened between odes to God and His Creation – and to Levinus Vincent and his – written by visitors to the Cabinet numbering amongst Vincent’s friends. [..]

The first, 'Wondertooneel der Nature' (Theatre of Nature’s Marvels), appeared in 1706. Most of the subsequent descriptions of his collection differed largely in the number of eulogizing poems or the length and detail of the description of specimens, and are not clearly identifiable as separate books. [..]

For Vincent and his circle, these publications served a mediating function in the interpretation of the cabinet. No-one, gazing upon the multiplicity of natural productions, could fail to worship God in His Creation. The readership was divided into 'Liefhebbers', or lovers of natural productions and of God, and atheists, who were alternately bidden to “come before the light, and learn ... in all these works to observe the actions of the Supreme Artist” or to keep quiet: “Every animal has a tongue, to find out your guilt against you.”


  1. Just to point out the obvious… The curiosity cabinet has it parallels in what boing boing does today. I love the way in which this site showcases the work of others for the edification of all. Keep it up guys.

  2. @Lightfoote (#1), you just made my week. Thank you. I often think about Boing Boing like that too. We really appreciate you spending time here with us.

  3. Hi, I’m really glad you liked my article “Scientific Symmetries” enough to post it on boing boing. It would have been even better if you could name the author. Historians work hard to write their articles and get no financial rewards for them, usually (as in this case). So–if you like it, cite it! :-)
    Emma Spary, Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, London, England.

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