Seba was a German-born apothecary practicing in Amsterdam. His scientific interests and curiosity motivated him to amass a collection of exotic oddities garnered from his travels to the East and West Indies and from the purchases he made of specimens collected by travellers and world over. Many of the snake, plants, fish and shells illustrated and described in his 'Thesaurus' were based on the specimens Seba collected in his 'cabinet of curiosities'.
In fact, many of the extravagant designs of the engravings were copies of the arrangements of the specimens in the drawers of his cabinets and were echoed in the arrangements on the walls of the museum's interior. The collection was a valuable source to European natural historians, many of whom would not have had the opportunity to travel to the far flung destinations where the specimens were collected. It is documented that Carolus Linneas visited the collection when he was in Amsterdam.