I think it started with my mother. She loves collecting small things. Her collection includes miniature bottles, books, knives in fact anything that is unusually small and the smaller the better. Over a period of time all her friends would be sending her small stuff that they came across and the collection began to grow. My grand father gave her a bottle the size of a small pea with a hundred ivory elephants in it! When we moved to a larger house she was looking for ways to showcase her collection. She wanted a display rack that could be observed at close quarters and yet would not be easily disturbed as it would not be difficult to loose some of these very tiny things had she kept it in the open.
It is practical as I don’t have to dust the objects and serves the dual purpose of a coffee table and a display unit. That it engages people and often becomes the starting point of several interesting conversations is definitely a bonus.
* Title idea from Keri Smith’s 100 ideas.