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 hundreds of thousands as one of many world's first pharmaceutical marketers. Drawing on his enormous wealth, he deliberate a good museum choked with treasures from all corners of the globe, charting the background of human future health from prehistory to the current day. Demonstrating what can take place whilst a collector's aspirations are left unconstrained through 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 hope for scholarly popularity; his interest and his perfectionism; and his philanthropic aspirations and his force for private glory. through the commencing a long time of the 20 th century he received a set so huge that later generations of employees took to describing its contents through the ton. yet Wellcome's museum was once by no means complete, and his assortment was once nonetheless kept in immense warehouses whilst he died, unseen and incomplete.
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Additional resources for An Infinity of Things: How Sir Henry Wellcome Collected the World
He collected them for his trade exhibits, for his research into the Wrm’s own product range, and simply because he was interested in their history. 46 Medicine chests, a library of old manuscripts and books, an assortment of decorative vases, pieces of art and sculpture, a collection of Native American objects, some rugs and naval memorabilia: these are the beginnings of Wellcome’s collection. His ‘antiquarian studies’, as Burroughs had described them, were varied, but they shaped his success as a businessman and played their part in his domestic life too.
On 24 March 1899, Thompson conWrmed that he had ‘forwarded altogether since Feb 5th, seven sacks, 1 basket and 3 38 A VERY FULL AND COMPLETE VOLUME parcels of books’. 25 Buying books for Wellcome was becoming a full-time job for Thompson, and Wellcome was about to reach an agreement with him that would transform his collection forever. In December 1899, Thompson signed an exclusive contract with Burroughs Wellcome and Company. It was to prove a long-standing agreement. He became Wellcome’s Wrst collecting agent.
He became Wellcome’s Wrst collecting agent. Eventually he became curator of Wellcome’s Museum, and his closest collecting collaborator. The two men worked together for more than twenty-Wve years, building up Wellcome’s collection of artefacts, books, and pictures, and Thompson was the perfect man for the job (Figure 6). He was knowledgeable and enthusiastic, selfassured and tough. He drove a hard bargain with dealers (a talent Wellcome always respected, not least because it was his money that Thompson was bargaining with) and he had a clear sense of an object’s market value.