Milestones in the history of collecting ~ A meta-collection

The main mission of the privately funded Tricottet Collection, established in 2006, is the preservation and study of historic collections assembled by individuals who played an important role in their respective fields. Objects and documents part of The Tricottet Collection are thus associated with famous collectors, curators, institutions and/or field-collecting places.


Mineral collecting has a long written history, with the earliest mineral collection catalogue dating back to the mid-16th century. At first a hobby of the European nobility, especially in mining centers such as Saxony or Cornwall, mineral collecting later became the obsession of wealthy American entrepreneurs. Most of those early collections formed the core of future natural history museums. In the 20th century, mineral connoisseurship continued to evolve, including an interest for mineral specimens with pedigree...

Artefact collecting took off in the Roman Empire with some of its rich citizens collecting precious and historic objects brought back from the conquered regions. During the Renaissance, coin collections formed an important part of the Wunderkammern. Dedicated archaeological and ethnological collections developed significantly in the 19th century. Collections of cultural and historical nature further specialized. Examples include the Edward S. Morse collection of Japanese pottery, the William Niven collection of Mexican antiquities, the Gustave Gouellain collection of French faïence, or the Bernard-Franck collection of militaria...

Meteorite collecting is relatively recent in the field of natural history collecting, with meteorites only recognized as extraterrestrial rocks by the turn of the 19th century. Tektites, which are a type of impactite, were still believed to have a lunar origin until the 1969 Apollo mission. A unique aspect of meteorite collecting is the crucial role of trading since building a systematic meteorite collection would require a specimen of each named fall and find...

In 1565 Samuel Quiccheberg - in the oldest known museological tract - already mentioned the instruments, tools, and machines to be collected alongside naturalia and arts of works. With the early museums built from the private wunderkammern of wealthy individuals, mechanical devices only represented a fraction of those collections. It is with the Industrial Revolution that museums dedicated to mechanical devices emerged. An early example is the London Science Museum. Famous private collectors include e.g. Carl Marfels for antique watches, Allan Bromley for calculating devices...

Fossil collecting was already a pastime of the ancient Greeks and Romans, but we have to wait until the Renaissance to see the first depictions of petrified bones of 'monsters' and 'giants' filling the Wunderkammern of the era. Exotic animal specimens coming from overseas formed also central pieces of those early documented collections. It was only towards the end of the 17th century that a more systematic approach to collecting emerged, with Grew's 1681 'Musaeum Regalis Societatis' a milestone in this regards. Then followed a specialisation of collecting themes. Conchyliomania...

Collecting is in itself an entertaining activity, which is represented in the various sections of The Tricottet Collection. This gallery focuses on "entertainment objets", such as books, artworks and play memorabilia from famous collections. Play memorabilia include musical instruments, toys, and sport memorabilia. Artworks were already collected in Ancient Rome but chains-of-custody have long been lost for most of the paintings and sculptures that survive in our modern museums (Bonnaffé, 1867). With the development of consumerism, starting with the Industrial Revolution and accelerating to this day, ...

The T.C. Gallery ~ Own a piece of collecting history

As a possible investment in non-traditional assets or as an upgrade to an existing collection, The T.C. Gallery offers a selection of high-end collectibles from a variety of collecting themes. All objects, historically important and fully documented, were once part of one or more historic collections and/or represent milestones in the history of collectibles. The T.C. Gallery also offers a rare choice of collection catalogues and other documents related to the collecting process - Access The T.C. Gallery via one of the categories below.


The T.C. Lab ~ Research on the collecting process

• Mignan, A. (2018), Metacollecting or the process of collecting collections, with examples from The Tricottet Collection. Colligo, 1(2), https://perma.cc/XX, in press

• Mignan, A. (2016), Metacollecting and use of "collection-objects" in prosopographical studies of meteorite collections. Meteorites, 4 (1-2), 11-22, doi: 10.5277/met160102

• Mignan, A. & B. Reed (2012), The Monnig Meteorite Collection Numbers Revisited. Meteorite magazine, 18(3), 10-13