By Frances Larson
Richly illustrated all through, together with eight pages of colour plates, An Infinity of Things tells the tale of the best deepest assortment ever made, and the lifetime of the fellow in the back of it. American-born Henry Wellcome made his thousands as one of many world's first pharmaceutical marketers. Drawing on his monstrous wealth, he deliberate a superb museum jam-packed with treasures from all corners of the globe, charting the background of human future health from prehistory to the current day. Demonstrating what can occur while a collector's aspirations are left unconstrained by way of wealth, Frances Larson explores Wellcome's lifestyles via his possessions, revealing the numerous tensions in his personality: among his skills as a businessman and his wish for scholarly acceptance; his interest and his perfectionism; and his philanthropic aspirations and his force for private glory. throughout the starting a long time of the 20 th century he received a suite so huge that later generations of employees took to describing its contents via the ton. yet Wellcome's museum was once by no means accomplished, and his assortment was once nonetheless saved in big warehouses while he died, unseen and incomplete.
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Additional resources for An Infinity of Things: How Sir Henry Wellcome Collected the World
He was now less trusting of others, and he hardened himself to the inevitable gossip that surrounded his professional diYculties. ‘Please remember that I don’t want the facts of my troubles discussed among our friends’, he wrote to his mother before Burroughs died. ’6 Again, with echoes of Smilesian self-suYciency, Wellcome relied Wrst and foremost on himself. It was a characteristic that, years later, towards the end of his life, would shape his struggles to take control of the enormous museum collection he had created.
The stone prompted Henry’s Wrst ‘object lesson’, as he described it, for his father then talked to him about its history and purpose. It was an ancient tool, shaped by human hands thousands of years ago; perhaps it had been used for crafting weapons or for slicing meat. Wellcome’s father, he recalled, ‘explained to me that the perfecting of that late Neolithic implement meant more to those ancient peoples for their protection and as a means of gaining their livelihood than the invention of the electric telegraph or the steam railway engine meant to us.
But Wellcome did not rely solely on the quality of his merchandise to make an impact. He used other clever tricks to draw his audience in. 41 By this time, Wellcome’s attention-grabbing schemes had become more ambitious. For the 1896 annual meeting of the British Medical Association, he decided to exhibit a live sheep and a tank of live cod, to draw attention to the company’s lanolin soap and cod liver oil products. Transporting live cod to Carlisle proved challenging. One of the Wrm’s representatives, George Pearson, who was later to become General Manager, was sent to Grimsby to fetch the cod, where he chartered a tug boat to take him 20 miles out to sea for suitable water to Wll a Wsh tank.