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iPROJECTS | PERSONAL BELONGINGS AND COLLECTIONS ON 18TH CENTURY TRAVELS


I was glad to note what was necessary with my
pencil and the notebook kept in my pocket.
LETTER FROM PEHR OSBECK TO CARL LINNAEUS, 14th of October 1752

This detailed watercolour by Jan Brandes, depicts the surgeon’s cabin on the Dutch East India Company ship Stavenisse ca 1778-87. The Linnaeus’ apostle Carl Peter Thunberg travelled as ship’s surgeon on the very same ship from Japan in 1776, and noted in his journal on November 23rd: ‘I bade farewell to the island of Dezima, and sailed to the Admiral’s ship Stavenisse, which rode at anchor off Papenberg.’ It is interesting to notice that the box bed was built in by the porthole – to take advantage of the fresh breeze on the partly hot journeys. A multicoloured bedcover, checked bed curtains, linen sheets and a pillow/s were part of the comfort during the long sailing. (Courtesy of: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Album van Jan Brandes, deel 1. NG-1985-7-1-4).This detailed watercolour by Jan Brandes, depicts the surgeon’s cabin on the Dutch East India Company ship Stavenisse ca 1778-87. The Linnaeus’ apostle Carl Peter Thunberg travelled as ship’s surgeon on the very same ship from Japan in 1776, and noted in his journal on November 23rd: ‘I bade farewell to the island of Dezima, and sailed to the Admiral’s ship Stavenisse, which rode at anchor off Papenberg.’ It is interesting to notice that the box bed was built in by the porthole – to take advantage of the fresh breeze on the partly hot journeys. A multicoloured bedcover, checked bed curtains, linen sheets and a pillow/s were part of the comfort during the long sailing. (Courtesy of: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Album van Jan Brandes, deel 1. NG-1985-7-1-4).

BACKGROUND

Practical aspects of used clothing, bedding, materials for notes and books, collected botanical specimens, letters etc kept among personal belongings during 18th century travels is an ongoing research project introduced in autumn 2017. The aim is to deepen the understanding of issues arising during long journeys and the extensive planning often going on prior to, during and after such scientific expeditions alike. The project is based on a complex network – linked to  the Linnaeus Apostles and their Colleagues in a global perspective – of about one hundred individuals as studied via archival documents, physical objects, printed and visual sources of the time.  

 

INTRODUCTION

The project is closely linked the research and publishing work The Linnaeus Apostles – Global Science & Adventure within The IK Foundation over the years 2007-2012, especially an article ‘In the Chest’ (Volume One, pp 249-276) as well as the project “Bridge Builder Expeditions part I” 2014-2021” with travels in North America, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Spitsbergen. Continuous publishing of essays related to 18th century textile traditions on TEXTILIS www.textilis.net (part of the IK Workshop Society) and the recent monograph Textilia Linnaeana – Global 18th Century Textile Traditions & Trade (2017).

The project aims to give a further in-depth understanding of practical aspects during 18th century travels and fieldwork from a perspective of the naturalists, their assistants, local guides and patrons. Carl Linnaeus and his seventeen so-called Apostles evidently had an extended network over their lifetimes, but a surprising number of these individuals seemed to have known each other in a complex combination of contacts via personal meetings and correspondence. Even if women were scarcely seen as actual travellers among the approximately one hundred linked persons, they often assisted with the naturalists’ personal belongings. Mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, washerwomen, knitters, weavers were undoubtedly often part of the preparation of clothing or scientific writings, copying of letters etc. 

Even if a traveller’s Instruction written prior to a journey often was followed as strictly as possible, many observations seem to have been accidental which often gave additional or different information than initially intended – the personal belongings and collections were also part of these random encounters. The project will be studied from a wide range of sources, to in the best way possible understand the practical everyday needs and experiences during long journeys on sailing ships or over land via caravans etc in the 18th century.  

  • Archival documents: handwritten travel journals and diaries, correspondence and other personal accounts, inventory lists onboard ships/East India Company, purchasing lists, estate inventories.
  • Printed sources: 18th century travel journals, travelling expenses, newspapers and adverts.
  • Physical objects: chests, clothing, fabric samples, herbaria etc.
  • Visual sources: contemporary prints and paintings.
  • Together with secondary sources: literature from the 18th century up to present-day, including recent in-depth research about material culture and history of science linked to the Linnaean network.

The two 18th century depictions may illustrate some of the details related to personal belongings and natural history collection work, which this ongoing project will analyse in greater depths during the coming years. 

John Ellis’ (c.1710-1776) book on ‘Directions for Bringing over Seeds and Plants, from the East Indies and Other Distant Countries…’ includes this detailed depiction of transportation in boxes over land and sea. Furthermore the book among many references mentioned his correspondence with Carl Linnaeus ‘some years ago’ and the Swedish botanist’s advice how to keep moisture of seeds in the best possible way. As Ellis was a naturalist – member of Royal Societies in London and Uppsala – as well as a linen merchant, one may assume that linen should be a material mentioned in the book, but it was not. Paper, fine sand, salt, wet moss and beeswax were primarily recommended as preservation for seeds. He also mentioned: ‘Dip some square pieces of cotton cloth in melted wax…’ as an assisting material. (Courtesy of: Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa. HI Library call no. MC1 E47D – from John Ellis, 1770, pp 11-12).John Ellis’ (c.1710-1776) book on ‘Directions for Bringing over Seeds and Plants, from the East Indies and Other Distant Countries…’ includes this detailed depiction of transportation in boxes over land and sea. Furthermore the book among many references mentioned his correspondence with Carl Linnaeus ‘some years ago’ and the Swedish botanist’s advice how to keep moisture of seeds in the best possible way. As Ellis was a naturalist – member of Royal Societies in London and Uppsala – as well as a linen merchant, one may assume that linen should be a material mentioned in the book, but it was not. Paper, fine sand, salt, wet moss and beeswax were primarily recommended as preservation for seeds. He also mentioned: ‘Dip some square pieces of cotton cloth in melted wax…’ as an assisting material. (Courtesy of: Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa. HI Library call no. MC1 E47D – from John Ellis, 1770, pp 11-12).

 

Read more in the following – ESSAYS | iTEXTILIS.

No: XCVI | 'August 28, 2018. Eiderdown, Woollen Clothes & Furs – Practical aspects on Journeys to Spitsbergen 1750s to 1820s’.

No: CVI | June 4, 2019. ‘Tablecloths and Mats during Meals – Observations by 18th Century Travelling Naturalists’

No: CXII | December 1, 2019. ‘Disagreements and Unpleasantness – Textile Observations during 18th Century Natural History Travels’

No: CXV | February 27, 2020. ‘Hans Sloane’s Collection – An 18th Century Study of Natural Curiosities and Textile Dyes’

No: CXLI | January 24, 2022. ‘SMUGGLING OF TEXTILES AND MAPS – On 18th Century Natural History Journeys’.

No: CXLVI. | April 19, 2022. 'NATURAL HISTORY AND CURIOSITIES – A Case Study of Global Traditions, Textiles and Museums in the 18th century'.

iPROJECT: Textilia Linnaeana
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iPROJECTS

In The IK Foundation and The IK Workshop Society there are continually ongoing comprehensive projects, each having different character and format. In iPROJECTS the current works and ideas are presented - Expeditions, Fieldwork, Research, Presentation in progress, and much more... For regular updates, and to make full use of iTEXTILIS' possibilities, we recommend fellowship by subscribing to our monthly newsletter iMESSENGER.



NAME OF PROJECT
  • PERSONAL BELONGINGS AND COLLECTIONS ON 18TH CENTURY TRAVELS
    - The Linnaeus Apostles and their Colleagues in a Global Perspective (working title)


GEOGRAPHICAL SCOPE
  • All continents, including more than 60 countries.


SUBJECTS
  • 18th century Studies
  • Geography
  • Textile History
  • Natural History
  • History of Science
  • Economic History


TIMELINE
  • November 2017 – start of the project.
  • 2018 – initial research, fieldwork and fundraising.
  • 2019-2020 – continuous research, fieldwork, fund raising and follow-up work.
  • 2018-ongoing – Essays and transcribed documents under a Creative Commons license.
  • 2021-ongoing – Book chapters in the printed series Mundus Linnæi.


PUBLICISE
  • Book chapters in the series Mundus Linnæi
  • ESSAYS | iTEXTILIS
  • Transcribed documents/Online


HUMAN RESOURCES
  • Head of research: Viveka Hansen
  • Webmaster & Digital Network: Jeff Snoxell
  • Art Work: Graham Scott


PATRONAGE
This site/project has been made globally available in collaboration with:

  • The IK Foundation & Company, London, United Kingdom
  • Anonymous Patron 2017-2018
Feel welcome to read more about how to take part...


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