Albert Seba (1941)

Document ID: 
W23-Fa23
Date: 
circa 1985
Object-type: 
Photograph

To begin with, there's no flawless method - it's all doubt and detour ...

Albert Seba, pharmacist and collector of ethnografics, was friends with Bob Tagge for years.

Seba was world famous in his field but has not been seen in public for more then twenty years. He was born at the beginning of the war in East Friesland, studied medicine in Sande and Groningen and started working (succesfully as it appeared) for all kind of firms and companies in Asia and Latin America. Somewhere around 1978, 1979 he settled in Amsterdam, where he practised as a pharmacist. He brought along an enormous ethnographic collection, partly gained during his travels and partly acquired by a shrewd bartering with uninsured sailors, as he came to visit them in the Port of Amsterdam with medicine they needed. The collection made a big impression on Bob Tagge.

in his limited spare time Seba worked on cataloguing his collection, but soon realized that the project was far beyond his possibilities. He asked Bob and Bob's friend Peter Artedi to assist him in this. Bob, however, couldn’t accept working with Seba’s code of classification and as Albert Seba rejected working with Bob’s thesaurus, they both went their own way. It is said that Artedi continued working on the fismask part of the collection for some time, but was reported dead by drowning in one of the canals after a dinner at Seba’s. What exactly happened and where Seba, Artedi and Tagge are at the moment remains a mystery.