They go back to Victorian times, people used them to display and protect collectibles, ornaments, and fruit and flower arrangements made from natural materials such as wax, feathers, shells and cloth. They existed either at home – in the drawing rooms, as prominent features on fireplace – or at museums displaying taxidermy or other valuables objects.
It seems to me they have became a trend again, I keep seeing them everywhere, in interiors shoots, as artwork displays, at homes, etc…a while ago I managed to get a Victorian small one, very cheap, at the Greenwich market, (this second hand market doesn’t exit anymore, they only left a small section, I am very sad about it!!). I love it, I keep changing its content, I am looking to get some more!. I will take some pictures soon and post it in here. Do you have any? I would love to see how you make use of it, and where you find it.