UCL Museums & Collections Blog
  •  
  •  
  • Categories

  •  
  • Tags

  •  
  • Archives

  • IT ALSO CAME FROM THE STORES

    By Mark Carnall, on 14 December 2011

    Number 2 in an occasional series highlighting objects from the stores. The first one is here. Hmmmm, I  may need to rethink the title for these posts as after IT STILL COMES FROM THE STORES and IT DIDN’T NOT COME FROM THE STORES it might be hard to come up with the next title.

    Just a quick one today reflecting on the kinds of questions that objects provoke curators to ask of the collections they look after. I’ve been working with our documentation assistant on the spirit collection and  I found this curious unidentified object:

    Now I'm no Professor but you need some stones to preserve one of these

    Here are the questions that first popped into my head. It is round so what round things do we find in nature? Testicles, tumours, echinoderms, eggs, eyes, inflated pufferfish, some stones, animals curled up (trilobites, hedgehogs, woodlice) and various organs. It didn’t look like any of these. On closer inspection and in conference with museum assistant Emma we unanimously decided it was a plum. This finding solicited a new series of questions. Why does the Grant Museum of Zoology have a preserved plum? Who decided to preserve this plum and why? Is this plum perhaps taken from the inside of an animal (including possibly a former curator)? Was this preserved as part of an experiment? Was it perhaps a plum that Charles Darwin or Robert Grant had almost eaten? Was it preserved as a hoax? Dissatisfyingly, we probably won’t find the answers to many of these questions.

    About a week later I was struck by the question how did it get in the jar?

    Bookmark and Share

    7 Responses to “IT ALSO CAME FROM THE STORES”

    • 1
      SLDellar wrote on 14 December 2011:

      Must have been a prune when it went in…

    • 2
      SLDellar wrote on 14 December 2011:

      But who preserves a prune?

    • 3
      Daniel Morse wrote on 14 December 2011:

      Does it possibly have a gall wasp or similar inside? Perhaps the “Insect Inside” sticker fell off.

    • 4
      Mark Carnall wrote on 14 December 2011:

      That’s a good idea Daniel but there’s no holes, blemishes or lumps on the surface.

      Also, I imagine if it did have something interesting inside it, it wouldn’t have been put in a jar it is impossible to get the specimen out of.

    • 5
      Brian Regal wrote on 14 December 2011:

      Was it Little Jack Horner’s?

    • 6
      Paul Varotsis wrote on 15 December 2011:

      I suspect it grew in the jar, in a similar fashion as pear grow in bottles of pear liqueur here is an example http://www.distillerie-meyer.fr/_distillerie/liqueur-poire-william/liqueur-poire-william.html
      Have you smelled the liquid? Have you tasted it?
      Maybe a curator who liked plum spirit brought it back from a trip?

    • 7
      Dominic Stiles wrote on 15 December 2011:

      You could empty out the preservative, test what it is & if it has any organic residue, then having had a clear view of the contents & if for example there is a bore hole, refill with a new preservative of the same type.

    Leave a Reply