Antique Victorian Terraniums



2015-06-26 11:18:16

Antique Victorian Terraniums are closed transparent cases or globes used for containing growing plants, which first became a popular style of decoration during the Victorian era.


Brief history and description

Terrariums typically have glass walls or tops, and may even have detailed roofs or French-style doors with various styles of decor.

The idea of growing plants in closed cases originated from Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, who wrote an article titled "On the Growth of Plants in Closely Glazed Cases" in Gardeners Magazine in September of 1839.

Today terrariums remain to be a popular style of folk art, and are incredibly easy to craft (thus many terrariums are generally custom-made and feature one-of-a-kind designs).

Guide for collectors

Victorian Terrariums which still have their original glass walls or tops are considered to be rare and valuable.

Restoration of a Victorian terrarium is recommended, but only if there is noticeable damage. However, restoring a Victorian terrarium may decrease its value.

For more information regarding Victorian terrariums, visit or The Terrarium Museum.


Auction Gallery of the Palm Beaches Inc. in West Palm Beach, Florida sold a Victorian cast iron terrarium/aquarium (circa 1880 to 1890; 62.75" x 44.25") for $6,500 in February of 2011.

Skinner in Massachusetts sold a carved wood and hexagonal Victorian renaissance revival terrarium (40" x 28") for $3,750 in July of 2011.

San Rafael Auction Gallery in San Rafael, California sold an iron Victorian terrarium (53.75" x 36" x 24.5") for $550 in June of 2007.

Skinner in Massachusetts sold a Victorian walnut terrarium (21 3/8" x 17") with colourless glass sides for $475 in July of 2004.

Rago Arts and Auction Center in Lambertville, New Jersey sold a cast iron Victorian garden terrarium (19'' x 29'' x 14.5'') for $200 in August of 2009, and another cast iron Victorian terrarium of the same dimensions for $225 in February of 2010.

Susanin's Auctions in Chicago, Illinois sold a patinated metal and glass Victorian terrarium for $125 in January of 2009.

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