A unique meta-collection on the history of naturalia & artificialia collecting

Established since 2006 - Online since 2010

The main mission of the privately funded Tricottet Collection 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, institutions and/or historical events. The Tricottet Collection is divided into four categories, the Hall of Minerals, the Hall of Life, the Hall of Meteorites and the Cabinet of Curiosities. The Tricottet Library of rare books, manuscripts and images on the history of collecting, completes this meta-collection. Although focus is made on natural history, cybernetic devices (from calculators to artificial intelligence via video games) are included in the Hall of Life. The Cabinet of Curiosities also extends The Tricottet Collection to material culture and to the general aspects of collecting (considering manufactured objects, such as everyday objects, toys, etc.). Finally, data collections (written eyewitness accounts, scrapbooks, etc.) complete The Tricottet Collection to investigate how humans see natural phenomena, from factual events (scientifica) to odd conjectures (forteana).

The Hall of Minerals brings us to the deep underground of the Earth and its many treasures. It is divided into the Galleries of Historic Ores, Crystals, and Gems. Highlights include cassiterite from the Arthur Flagg collection in three forms (raw, lab sample, tin bar), rare pseudomorphs from early 19th century collections (from Baroness Burdett-Coutts, Sir Ferguson) and an archive on John Sinkankas, author of the monumental "Gemology, An Annotated Bibliography".

The Hall of Life shows us the complexity of the biosphere, past, present and future. It is divided into the Galleries of Historic Fossils, Living Things, and Cybernetic Devices. Highlights include fossil suites of the Chalk and Devonian, respectively from the Horsham Museum and Heidelberg University, contemporary art works representing the Anthropocene, the Langlassé meta-collection of shells, suites of calculators and video games, respectively from the Bromley and White Mountain collections.

The Hall of Meteorites leads us to the sporadic celestial objects that fall to Earth in hails of stones or in cataclysmic explosions. It is divided into the Galleries of Historic Meteorite Falls, Meteorite Finds, and Tektites (and other glasses). Highlights include the earliest meteorite publications, correspondence on meteorite trading, meteorite specimens from leading research institutions, a meteorwrong from Haidinger, Saul's field notebook on Ivoirites and a Philippinite from the Beyer collection.

The Cabinet of Curiosities consists of an heteroclite accumulation of curios that goes beyond natural history collecting. It is separated into the "Collectionnite", Forteana and Scientifica sections. Highlights include Eudel's 1885 anthology on French collections and collectors, a suite of 1980s objects from the White Mountain collection, a sketch of one of the legendary "Kubuyuruk" Eskimo pygmies, or "Mars People" of Welzl, newspaper clippings on insanity collected by Spitzka and documents about humain brain collecting.

The Tricottet Library contains books, articles, manuscripts, correspondence and images on the history of collecting, in particular: collection catalogues and notices, sales catalogues, bibliographies, letters about object trading and other material on the history of collecting, various documents on specific historic objects (both naturalia and artificialia) and historic phenomena (both scientifica and forteana). The oldest book in the library is Grew's 1681 "Musaeum Regalis Societatis".

Paul Eudel collections and collectors, letters, manuscripts

Fig. 1: Paul Eudel's 1885 anthology on French collections and collectors of the 19th century: (1) One of only two copies printed on rose-colored paper of "Collections et collectionneurs" (G. Charpentier et Cie., Paris, 300 pp.). With Eudel's signed autograph inscription on the title verso: "Il a été tiré sur papier rose deux exemplaires qui n'ont pas été mis dans le commerce. Paul Eudel. No. 2"; (2) "Correspondance, Collections et collectionneurs, avant et après", bound volume with over 80 letters & a manuscript on shell collecting. Among the letters are some from Arthur Maury (1844-1907), one of the pioneers of philately and author of the first stamp-collecting catalogues; some from Ad. Giraldon regarding the toy collection of Mme Agar; others from pottery collector Gustave Gouellain, to whom Eudel dedicated his book; etc. The Tricottet Collection themes are not forgotten since it also includes a few letters on shells, but most importantly, a 21-page manuscript on shell collecting by Eudel's brother Emile. Paul Eudel (1837-1911), one of the great French connoisseurs, bibliophiles and art critics of the 19th century, wrote prolifically on the subject of collecting - Source: The Tricottet Library.

The First Explicit Metacollection

Two different collecting behaviours exist, relating to the processes of curating or possessing. The curator, a scientist or historian, can be seen as the gatherer and protector of the information, or facts, contained in a collection or set of objects. The collector is anyone passionate about his collection or more exactly about the idea of completing a set of objects (e.g., Baudrillard, 1994). Metacollecting refers to the act of collecting collection-objects. In this case, the collection becomes a higher-level object. The concept of metacollecting thus yields a focus shift from objects of intrinsic scientific value to objects of extrinsic socio-historical value. The “collection-object” is defined by its attributes of being one specific collection prepared by one specific collector, i.e. by the information associated to the lower-level objects (or specimens) the collection contains (Mignan, 2016). It is similar to object biography and relates more generally to material culture.

Fig. 1 shows the 1885 anthology "Collections et Collectionneurs" by Paul Eudel, where the author collected himself stories about collectors. Eudel talks about antiques, toys, pipes, stamps and shells and how these objects are viewed in the eyes of their owners. It epitomizes what The Tricottet Collection is all about, which is collecting collections, or metacollecting. The Tricottet Collection and Library focus mostly on natural history collections:
Minerals: ores, crystals and gems;
Life: past (fossils), present (e.g., shells) and future (cybernetic devices);
Meteorites: falls, finds, tektites and other glasses;
Curios: "collectionnite", forteana and scientifica.
Art works and scientific instruments are also considered. All of these collection-objects are characterized by their labels and inventory numbers, by the way they are displayed and/or by their place in history (Fig. 2).

An Exhibit Collection

As natural history collecting is a limitless topic, The Tricottet Collection follows some strict rules to make its scope somewhat finite. While its coverage is broad, it is not a systematic collection, nor an objective one. This metacollection is the result of a personal adventure and uses several subjective filtering strategies, promoting:
• Specimens of historical importance (about the collected and/or the collector);
• Specimens with long documented chains-of-custody (i.e., high SHCI);
• The aesthetics and the unusual;
• Specimen sizes ranging from "Thumbnail" to "Small Cabinet".

The Tricottet Collection is before all an exhibit collection, whose aim is to tell stories about the history of natural history collecting with selected suites of specimens, books, and other memorabilia.


Fig. 2. Examples of collection-objects: Multi-source meteorites linking the Ward-Coonley collection to the Field Museum of Chicago (and to other collections): Forest City stone with painted numbers from FNHM, American Meteorite Lab. and University of New Mexico; Pultusk stone with painted numbers from Ward-Coonley and FNHM. This specimen was deaccessioned to R.D. Evans in the 1950s for chemical analysis - Source: The Tricottet Collection & Library.

science-fiction, time travel, cyberpunk, ebook, free pdf, Jungian, apocalypse tryptic, space colonization


in journals

Metacollecting and use of "collection-objects" in prosopographical studies of meteorite collections
Meteorites, vol. 4, nos. 1-2, pp. 11-22 (2016)

in magazines

The Monnig Meteorite Collection Numbers Revisited
Meteorite magazine, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 10-13 (2012)
Claims of Indigenous Life Forms in Meteorites: A Short Review
Meteorite magazine, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 34-38 (2011)

Socio-historical collection index

The goal of metacollecting, which is to identify and analyse, from collection specimens, the links between different individuals including museum curators, researchers, dealers and others, is now formalized by the socio-historical collection index (or SHCI). We are in the process of evaluating the SHCI of the objects contained in our collections. To learn more about this new index, please refer to Mignan (2016).

The Tricottet Collection Elsewhere

The Tricottet Collection's name is now on permanent display in the world's oldest and largest meteorite exhibit, at the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien! Follow the image trail below to find us (photographs reproduced with permission).

Objects from The Tricottet Collection are also featured in the following books: Brandstätter et al. (2013), Buhl and McColl (2012), Golia (2015) and Nicholl (2015).

Terms of Use

We encourage the dissemination of information contained in the Tricottet Collection. However the materials provided on this website are the intellectual property of The Tricottet Collection or of third parties, when stated as such:
Materials from The Tricottet Collection, which correspond to texts and images produced by The Tricottet Collection, may be used for non-commercial purposes only (education and scholarly research). When reproducing images, you agree to attach the copyright notice "© The Tricottet Collection" and, when reproduced on a website, to add a link to The Tricottet Collection. High-resolution images are available upon request, only for reproduction in scholarly articles and books;
Third party materials part of The Tricottet Library (recent letters, manuscripts, images not yet in the public domain) may be copyrighted. All efforts were made to obtain the consent of the copyright holders to publish their works on The Tricottet Collection website. We however do not provide the rights to reproduce third party materials elsewhere.

Available from the Tricottet Collection

Civilization II videogame box impactifact
Park Forest chondrite
Fell 26 March 2003, Illinois, USA

MicroProse Software Civilization II game CD, complete and still in the original box struck by a meteorite in Park Forest on 26 March 2003.

When "Civilization" is struck by a meteorite

On 26 Mar. 2003 around midnight, a rain of meteorites occurred over the town of Park Forest, in the suburban area of Chicago, Illinois. This led to several meteoritic impacts on man-made objects, including a videogame box [1]. The story of the impact, which occurred over the Navarro household and rated number 6 of the 10 most memorable meteor crashes in history on the website How Stuff Works, is given below:

"If you wait long enough, a piece of outer space itself will come right to you. As Colby Navarro worked innocently on the computer, a rock from space crashed through the roof, struck the printer, banged off the wall, and came to rest near the filing cabinet. This occurred around midnight on March 26, 2003 in Park Forest, Illinois, USA, near Chicago." - NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day July 24, 2003

While the story is amazing by itself (Daily Southtown, 2003; The Star, 2003; [2]), it seems even more fascinating, some might say ironic, that the meteorite struck a videogame named Civilization. Videogame Civilization II has been rated number 3, after Super Mario Bros and Tetris, of the 100 top games of all times (IGN Entertainment, 2007). This extraordinary item was acquired by the Tricottet Collection from Adam Hupé, meteorite hunter. Photographs of the debris field (see also [3]) and of the impact hole attest of the incredible event (photographs courtesy of Adam Hupé - note the video game box on the left of the printer in the debris field). Regarding the Navarro meteorite, meteorite hunter Michael Farmer bought it for $12,000 from Colby Navarro a few days after the event (Sunday Southtown, 2003). Its present whereabouts are unknown. Other celebrated impactifacts include the 1992 Peekskill car (Peekskill Herald, 1992) and the 1984 Claxton mailbox (Bonhams, 2007).

Figures: [1] Videogame box (Park Forest, 2003) | [2] Newspaper clippings (Park Forest, 2003) | [3] Impact debris from Navarro house (Park Forest, 2003)

Collecting video games
The Atari crash of 1983
1980s-21st century

E.T. Atari cartridge in box, found in the Alamogordo, New Mexico, landfll on 26 April 2014, memento of the 1983 video game crash and of the end of the Atari era.

Hunting for the Holy Grail of video games & other historic cartridges

It is only in the 2000s that the hobby of collecting vintage video games took off. Kids who had played with the first console systems had become adults and now had the cash to build collections answering to childhood nostalgia. It is to be noted that the earliest documented video game collection is certainly the one of Kennett Neily, owner of the celebrated White Mountain collection of rare comics, started in the early 1980s. However it is a special case as Neily never played any video game; he collected them like he accumulated many other objects usually related to science-fiction. Classic video game collecting really started in the 1990s, and as explained by early collector Stuart Brett, it wasn't easy being a Nintendo fan back then (Brett and Jarratt, 2016). Nowadays, video game collecting has matured with some collectors ready to spend $10,000 or more for the rarest cartridges. The Holy Grail for video game collectors is the Nintendo 1990 World Championships Gold Cartridge. The Grey cartridge also commands very high prices. Another must-have game is the very rare NTSC version of Stadium Events by Nintendo. The most recent addition to the list is the landfill Atari E.T. The Extra Terrestrial cartridge. In contrast to other collectible cartridges, these cannot be played and are far from mint condition; they were discovered in a New Mexico landfill in 2014, ending a three-decade long urban legend [1]. This game, often cited as one of the worst video games ever released, epitomizes the 1983 North American video game crash, with some of the landfill E.T CIBs sold for more than $1,500 at auction in 2014. The city of Alamogordo donated copies to selected museums, including the Smithsonian, and made some other cartridges available to the public.

Wanted: Nintendo World Championships Cartridge (grey, gold) | Documentation/correspondence related to the hunt for these rare games

Figures: [1] Landfill Atari E.T. CIB (Alamogordo City, featured on Wired)

Fine historic meteorites & tektites
19th-20th centuries

Juvinas endcut formerly from the Comptoir Central d'Histoire Naturelle of N. Boubée & Cie, Paris, France - and accompanied by a label

Specimens displayed here are available for sale or exchange

Figures: Juvinas endcut (N. Boubée) | Zhamanshinite (Unk.) | Suevite block (St. George Church) | Carbon copy of NASA astronaut form (E.A. King)

Charles Babbage, father of computing, autaograph letter, Dorset street, Elphinstone Trinity College, 1853, philography