The Evening Standard

24 December 2015
Ruth Guilding

Best art and design books from 2015

Once upon a time the richest, most learned men of Europe – those for whom gold, jewels and horses held no great allure – collected together cabinets of the strangest, most ancient, rare and magical objects from around the world.  Their collections were status symbols, each unique piece an emblem of wealth, sophistication and connoisseurship.

Oliver Hoare is a dealer in these rarities and their stories, a hunter and courtier among the oil-rich potentates of the Middle East with the gifts of Scheherazade, peddling the bizarre stories of a rare flightless parrot, a dodo, some erotic scrimshaw collected by whalers and a wooden phallus given to Bruce Chatwin in Benin by the great granddaughter of the 103-year-old King Sagbadjou.

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