Wardian Case: Object Text

Wardian Case

Wardian Case

Wardian Case
Dr. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward (1791–1868)

This Wardian Case plays an important historical role in the British’s plan to get new crops to different parts of the empire. This hermetically sealed glass box was invented by Dr. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward through serendipity when he observed a tiny fern emerged in a closed glass bottle while he waited to observe an insect’s metamorphosis back in 1829.

Plants and seeds were able to survive in this glass case due to the controlled environment where each element of a plant’s need is trap inside and the glass case becomes its own eco-system. Once the Wardian Case is shut, it needs little to no attention at all. This prove to be useful when ship captains uses the Wardian Cases to transport the Rubber Tree plant from Brazil back to Kew in 1876. The plant can be kept contained in the portable glasshouse free from dirt and salt accumulated during months are sea.

This mass movement of seeds illustrate the botanical imperialism by the British from organized plant raids to the diffusion of information among scientific and technical elites. These cases however was not fully embraced by all as it is argued that these mass moving of life across continents has the British playing ‘God’.

2 thoughts on “Wardian Case: Object Text

  1. Sujatha Meegama

    Where are you borrowing this case from? Which museum? What is the accession number? Please note these facts in your basic object information.
    British’s sound a bit awkward.
    emerging and not emerged.
    trapped and not trap.
    proved and not prove.
    how many ships were involved? one ship captain or many? used and not use.
    at sea and not are sea.
    Well organised object label!
    Fascinating point to end with! So, who was criticising the British for “playing god?”

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