The ornaments on this cabinet, mainly shels and stylised rippling water suggests that this cabinet was built to house a collection of shells and minerals. The use of exotic woods in the construction of the cabinet, and the shell and water ornaments mirror the nature of the collection it contained.
The collecting of shells and minerals became popular in the late 16th century when exotic specimens were brought back by seafarers from the Indies, the Americas and other newly discovered lands. Several Dutch collectors are known such as Rumphius - George Everhard Rumph, (1627 - 1702). Rumphius' collection was posthumusly published in 1702, D'Amboinsche Rariteitkamer. Johan de la Faille, a Delft collector and perhaps most important of all the Amsterdam Apotheckary Albertus Seba (1665 - 1736) whose collection was bought by Tsar Peter the Great in 1717.