Analysing the English Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum

Other items from London in founding collection

Alison Petch,
Researcher 'The Other Within' project

There are a number of other items in the Pitt Rivers Museum founding collection from Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers which were not obtained in the 1866 London Wall work, or the 1869 Acton work, or the related work connected with these two, or the Hampton Court Canoe. They are a miscellaneous lot, some archaeological, some ethnographic. Quite a few were purchased from other people, not always identified, for example

1884.2.22 Accession Book IV entry - 1884.2.1 - 35 - Locks and Keys Iron padlock [Medieval] Thames near Westminster Bridge Purchased February 1867

Other sources are named like Frederick George Hilton Price. Some are one-off pieces, like the facsimile New Zealand club made for Sir Joseph Banks to take to New Zealand as an exchange item (1884.12.280) [for further information about this artefact see

Then there are copies of original works in other collections, for example:

1884.24.128 Accession Book IV entry - 1884.24.1 - 270 - Swords etc Copy of figures on Greek vase (British Mus), depicting Hercules and an Amazon latter using kopis
Black book entry - Series illustrating the Geographical distribution of the form of blade known as the Greek kopis. Screen 36 1069 Copy of figures on an Etruscan [sic] vase in the British Museum representing Hercules and the Amazons the latter armed with the kopis 1235
Delivery Catalogue II entry - Framed pictures Wood carvings Clothing etc Drawing 'Hercules and the Amazons' glazed 1069 60 Cases 258 259
Pitt Rivers Catalogue Entry (1874) - Screen 39 ... Copy of figures on a vase in the British Museum representing a battle between Hercules and the Amazons, the latter armed with the kopis [p184]
Additional Pitt Rivers Catalogue entry - Perhaps one of the most interesting groups in the collection is that which represents the distribution and varieties of the form of weapon known as the Greek Kopis. ... Copies of other paintings upon vases, No 1235 from a vase in the British Museum representing a fight between Hercules and the Amazons in which the latter are armed with the kopis... [p174]

Firearms are represented, as in:

1884.27.4 Accession Book IV entry - 1884.27.1 - 92 - Firearms Rampart gun, unmounted, octagonal section at butt, with ornamental round muzzle, 4 eyes for mounting, side flash pan and touch hole Hampton Court [X21]

And lots of items with no specific provenance, except London (and sometimes a time period), or are provenanced but not to known Pitt Rivers' 'excavations':

1884.37.41 Accession Book IV entry - 1884.37.1 - 113 Pottery Ancient Wheel-made ?Flowerpot of white-glazed china ware with wavy lip, three marginal necks and three handles. Serle St Lincoln's Inn 1880 [4] [309 Sale No][Drawing]

There is lots of Samian pottery ware, and horse-shoes from various City of London and close neighbourhoods, that was probably salvaged by Pitt Rivers like the ones in 1866. They include a number of items obtained from peat bogs in the Lea Valley, Walthamstow. There are also items obtained during the great railway developments of the mid-nineteenth century, like Broad Street, and Charing Cross Station. A large number of (horse) spurs from London which had been previously unaccessioned were found during the dismantling of the partition storage on the upper gallery of the Museum in 2003 and accessioned.

Some of the items are quite intriguing, combining enough information to whet one's appetite but with insufficient information for research purposes

1884.67.145 Added Accession Book IV entry - 1884.67.134 - 146 The following objects are not on exhibition in the Museum - see also p137 [1884.61.44-61 Design developments and degradation] In Museum House store 26.2.34 Carved panel, full of small figures in relief in lines, obtained from house of Mr Jordan in Queens Sq (in Museum House


1884.117.3 Accession Book V entry - 1884.117.1 - 35 Miscellaneous - Heavy ball-like object (large polo-ball orange size), with embossed ridge, designs made of gutta-percha, opening at the top (neck crushed off?), a water bottle? Found 15ft deep in a cesspool at Homerton
Added Accession Book V entry - London E