Albert Seba prided himself
upon the extent and rarity of his natural-history collection,
which he had painstakingly brought together through contacts
with travelers returning to Amsterdam. An apothecary,
Seba supplemented traditional recipes with his search
for new ones, studying and testing exotic raw ingredients.
His medicines were famous enough that Peter the Great
had them sent to him in Russia. The Czar was equally impressed
with Seba’s curiosities: in 1717 he visited Seba
in Amsterdam and bought them all. Seba immediately began
to collect again, and his second collection formed the
basis for this publication. He commissioned artists to
make drawings and had them published as copper engravings
along with his own commentary.