Ripley Cabinet of Curiosities

The Cabinet of Curiosities or Ripley Cabinet is a fine collectors cabinet made from mahogany with numerous drawers. William IV in date, it contains various things collected by Dr Ripley 1788–1856. The collection was carried on after his death by members of his family. The last item to be included was a leaflet from the 1940s which had been dropped on the moors to say the Germans were winning the battle of the Atlantic.

The contents of the cabinet are very varied and include among many others:

  • various seals of earls, bishops and other gentry
  • a great number of plaster casts of classical cameo reliefs that would have been collected on the grand tour in the 18th and 19th century
  • a wood container with weeping willow from the tomb of Napoleon and an iron boss from his coffin before it was taken from St Helena to Paris
  • jet beads from a tumulus near Castleton
  • a watch paper cut out by a Miss Morrell the daughter of John Morrell, watchmaker. Born without hands or arms, she cut out the paper and signed her name with her feet in the presence of Dr Ripley
  • there are fossils
  • embroideries from the 18th century to 1940
  • a piece of handmade paper
  • various seeds and nuts
  • a piece of burnt newel post from the House of Lords, destroyed by fire in 1834

The cabinet was left to the museum by Miss Ellis in memory of her family and relatives in Whitby, the Ripley family.

Whitby–Pickering Railway seal

Pill box containing cloth from an Egyptian mummy