Musaeum Clausum (1684)

“Museaum Clausum” in Certain Miscellany Tracts, by Thomas Browne; 1684; London

In the latter half of the 17th century the English polymath Thomas Browne wrote Musaeum Clausum, an imagined inventory of ‘remarkable books, antiquities, pictures and rarities of several kinds, scarce or never seen by any man now living’. His list of desired items includes an ostrich’s egg engraved with a scene from the battle of Alcazar, a ring found in the belly of a fish (reputed to be the ring of the Doge of Venice with which he annually weds the sea), the mummified body of one Father Crispin of Toulouse, and ‘Batrachomyomachia, or the Homerican battle between frogs and mice, neatly described upon the chizel bone of a large pike’s jaw’.

Claire Preston, in her article “Lost Libraries” for The Public Domain Review, explores Browne’s extraordinary catalogue amid the wider context of a Renaissance preoccupation with lost intellectual treasures.

Housed at: Internet Archive | From: California Digital Library
Underlying Work: PD Worldwide | Digital Copy: No Additional Rights
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