Cottonian Collection Miscellaneous

A number of ceramics, seals and medals and other items that reflect the interests of the collectors.

Pottery and porcelain

Greek ceramic jugThere are only a few items of ceramics in the collection. These include a number of large oriental jars and vases which sat on top of the bookcases, no doubt acquired as decorative objects to enhance the presentation of the library.

In addition, there are a small number of ceramics, pieces of pottery from the near and far east representing the interests of the collector.


replica of medal for Leonardo da Vinci

The portrait medal originates from Roman coinage and was issued to commemorate a particular individual or event. They normally carry a portrait head or bust in profile on one side, a different design on the reverse, and an inscription running around the edge or rim. Made of non-precious metals, such as bronze, they had no monetary value, but were produced primarily to issue a likeness of the sitter and were frequently worn around the neck. Their production flourished in the 15th century Italy.


Used largely to authenticate official and private documents seals date back to civilizations such as the Ancient Egyptians, Romans and Byzantines and the Middle Ages when their use was restricted to monarchs and rulers, ecclesiastical leaders or government officials. Their use extended through to the 19th century, only gradually being replaced by the personal signature as more people learned to write. Seals came in a variety of different forms, from Egyptian scarab beetles to Roman signet rings, frequently featuring a portrait, sometimes with a legend around it. Their purpose was to identify the author of a document, prevent forgery and interference with official documents. The seal was impressed into soft wax, either directly onto a document, or attached by means of a ribbon or parchment.

Other objects

cast of assyrian slabThere is a small collection of other curious and familiar items reflecting some of the many interests of Rogers and the later Cottons.

Access the miscellaneous objects online

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