Historical Extracts

An inmate of the Glasgow Royal Lunatic Asylum, describing the contents of his pockets, 1885

The next advertisement is that of a man whose mania for collecting curiosities developed into a veritable madness. His hands and pockets are always stuffed with rags and other rubbish, regarded by him as treasures unique in their value and interest, as the following quotation will show:

“Mr. C – B – wishes to dispose of a few of the curiosities he has been so fortunate as to collect in his numerous journeys round the world. Amongst other rarities he offers to amateurs the following: 1, the famous fairy broom upon which Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, was wont to take his nocturnal excursions; 2, a watch belonging to an inhabitant of the moon, and regulated by the sun; 3, a nut the size of a melon; 4, a cobweb weighing two pounds; 5, a tile off the roof of the Tower of Babel; 6, Mahomet’s snuff-box; 7, a hair from the tail of Alexander’s horse, and 8. ditto, from that of Alcibiades’ dog; lastly, a congealed flame from Mount Etna.”