The store featured in TBOM is modeled after the precursors to modern museums called Cabinets of Curiousities. These kunstkabinett were imperialistic rooms full of display cases featuring unique items and oddities from far flung places in the world, or the farthermost reaches of one’s empire.
I had the chance to visit a modest cabinet of curiousities in person when I was in the Strahov Library. While it was far less flamboyant than the shop featured in TBOM, it did feature dried whale penises (labelled as elephant trunks) although they did not look nearly as exciting as it might sound.
The library rooms themselves were quite grand and stately, but my favourite part of the exhibit was the Xyloteka, a collection of books straight out of Prospero’s Books. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take a decent photo of these volumes, but each book is made out of the wood of a tree species with a corresponding engraving in the spine. When you open these books, instead of pages, you will find different parts of the tree: seeds, leaves, etc. I simply loved these little artifacts and have already thought of a way to incorporate them into the comic.
I’ve had a few early readers ask me if the store proprietess will be featured again in a later scene. Yes, she will, but much, much later on in the story. For the curious, I based her features on the lovely Dita von Teese and this photograph I found of a beautiful Iranian woman. As such, the name of the store is a Farsi transliteration of kunstkabinett.