People have always been interested in collecting objects and organisms, storing and exhibiting them in different ways. For example, botanists have stored pressed plants in book bindings since the Middle Ages. By mounting them on to paper in a permanent fashion this preserved the plants as a record to be studied, heralding the way for botanists worldwide.

The term "exsiccata" was first used in the 1800s to mean simply "a collection of pressed plant specimens" while albums of dried plants were known as hortu siccus, literally "dry garden" or hortus mortus, "dead garden". Traditionally, herbarium collections were kept in bound

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