Collections

Sloane started to build his collection during his trip to Jamaica, bringing back items such as plants, corals, minerals, insects and animals. By the 1690s, he also started to acquire other people's collections, which included books, manuscripts and antiquities. He had extensive links with people travelling abroad, from Carolina to China, from whom he purchased items or with whom he exchanged samples and information. To keep track of his expanding collection, Sloane methodically catalogued every item in detail. As the collection grew, he also needed space, buying at first the house next door in Bloomsbury, then later a much larger property in Chelsea. For Sloane, the point was not simply to acquire items, but to study the natural world and to understand its medical applications. He also permitted anyone who was interested in the collection to view it.