Terrariums and Wardian cases

Victorian carved wood Terrarium. England ca. 1860

Victorian hexagonal terrarium. The collection of rare plants from 
all over the world was a popular pastime as well as a serious pursuit. 
Easier travel advanced the sciences, especially botany. 'Collectors' would 
show off their field specimens and treasures at home in these specially 
made, often elaborate, display cases.

 A Wardian case

The Wardian case was the direct forerunner of the modern  
terrarium (and the inspiration for the glass aquarium), and was invented 
by Dr. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward (1791–1868), of London, in about 1829 
after an accidental discovery inspired him. Dr. Ward was a physician 
with a passion for botany. His personally collected herbarium 
amounted to 25,000 specimens...

Read more here

Iron and glass Wardian case
with ferns and other plants

Victorian Fern vase and Wardian Cases, 1870s, 

 'Terrarium with ferns and ivy'
From 'Rustic Adornments for Homes of Taste'. 
 by Shirley Hibberd (1825-1890), Groombridge, 1870

  Different types of Wardian cases