A conversation in the canteen about a 19th wheat specimen from Nepal led on to Henry Noltie asking if I had seen the amazing box of grasses.
The box was part of an educational range of display material of grasses, cereals and insects “injurious and benificial to farms and garden crops” produced by Suttons Seeds in the early 20th C.
It is collections of grasses in a ‘japanned’ finished tin vasculum. Wikipedia answered what japanned was although I suspect if I’d watched Antiques Roadshow I might have known. It contains 36 different types of grasses, each with a tag that has the botanical and a common name as well as other information relating to habitats and soil types. There are also 60 glass bottles with as examples of grasses and agricultural seeds.
According to the description in Suttons Seeds : a history 1806-2006 it is an intact set and would have cost 10/6d new, but ours look like it was bought second hand.
This is another one of those amazing bit of botanical/horticultural curio that lies hidden in the herbarium of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.