Wunderkammer or cabinets of curiosity were popular spectacles for people in the renaissance onward. For those with enough money to house these collections, wunderkammers could be a time consuming and expensive hobby. Beside cabinets, whole rooms were dedicated to the marvelous. What sort of things would you find in these cabinets? Well it wasn't Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum, curiosity cabinets contained many natural objects of beauty. Shells, rocks, taxidermy, and if you were especially lucky,
These were the sort of objects you would find at Don Saltero's although the uniqueness of these being at a coffee house made the place a bit of a tourist trap albeit a good one. While many 18th century wunderkammers now served as places of study Don Saltero, or James Salter, brought articles of curiosity to the masses for the price of a cup of coffee.
Salter began as a humble barber in the late 17th century. He had amassed a decent collection of articles from his old employer, Sir Hans Sloane, the founder of the British Museum. Whatever Sloane didn't care for he would hand off to the grateful Salter. When Salter founded the coffeehouse in 1695 customers were wowed by the rejected articles. Salter even published catalogs of his collection. Don Saltero's became such a famous attraction of London that when Salter died in 1768 his daughter took over running the coffeehouse museum. However, at her death there was no one to continue the care of the business so in 1799 the marvelous collection had to be sold.