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In Focus

The following objects represents a selection of topical, unusual or interesting records from our collection. These records have been selected by our team of curators.

ID number:  BIRRC-A0163
Title / Object name:  Celestial Globe
Category:  Decorative art
Object type:  Furniture
Artist / Maker:  Thomas & Charles Malby

A celestial globe is a three-dimensional map of the stars, invented in classical times. The stars were first believed to sit on the inside surface of a giant sphere around the Earth, their constant movement being caused by this giant sphere slowly turning overhead. Just like a terrestrial globe, the celestial sphere is mapped by a North and South Pole, an Equator, and lines of longitude and latitude. Constellations such as the Great Bear, Pegasus, Orion and the twelve signs of the zodiac are represented here. Since the ecliptic and equator are marked, the globe could be used to calculate the times of rising and setting of the stars, and their culmination, when a star reaches its highest point in the sky. This globe is supported by a walnut tripod stand carved with acanthus leaves and fitted with a compass. Intended as a library globe it was produced by Thomas and Charles Malby. The constellations and star magnitudes are as set by Piazzi, and completed under the supervision of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. Malby’s understanding of astronomy reflected the advanced knowledge of his time.   [More Info]

ID number:  ECM 6522
Title / Object name:  Cat Mummy Mask
Object type:  Mummy mask

Bronze mummy mask for cat burial   [More Info]

BIRUG 61932.jpg
ID number:  BIRUG 61932
Title / Object name:  Gneiss
Category:  Petrology
Object type:  Metamorphic

Coarse gneiss.   [More Info]

ID number:  BIRBI-B4674
Title / Object name:  Forty nummi
Category:  Numismatics
Object type:  Coin
Artist / Maker:  Michael II; Theophilos; Syracuse
Place made:  Sicily: Syracuse
Date made:  821-829

Obverse: busts of Michael and Theophilos facing wearing chlamys and loros respectively and cross crowns. Reverse: denomination mark with cross above.   [More Info]

ID number:  BIRBI-49.10
Title / Object name:  A Sheet of Studies
Category:  Visual art
Object type:  Drawing
Artist / Maker:  Rembrandt, Harmensz. van Rijn (1606-1669)
Date made:  mid-1630s

This sheet contains nine studies of five different figures and is the finest such drawing by Rembrandt to survive intact. Rembrandt was renowned for carrying a sketchbook around Amsterdam in which he would rapidly draw anything that aroused his curiosity. In this case, he draws a plump man wearing a fur coat and a plumed hat, a man in a turban, a woman nursing her child and a youth leaning on a ledge. The use of three different media and the careful placing of the studies on the sheet suggest that the drawing was made as a deliberate demonstration of the artist’s skill.   [More Info]