Analysing the English Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum

Sellers' relationships with PRM Part 1

Surnames A-E

Alison Petch,
Researcher 'The Other Within' project

This table (and that shown in Parts 2, 3, and 4) list all the vendors to the English collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum between 1884 and 2008. This table covers surnames starting A-E.

The final column seeks to show whether the Pitt Rivers Museum is known to have actively sought the purchased items from the vendor or had a passive relationship with them, where the vendor actively sought to sell specific items to the Museum. In some cases the relationship is unclear, in others it is probably either active or passive, and in a very few cases it is clear that the museum did not seek the relationship (i.e. was completely passive, and merely capitalised on a contact made deliberately by the vendor) or that the museum actively sought specific artefacts from specific sources to complement its displays or address specific points in its special exhibitions or displays.

Some preliminary conclusions about the purchases of English artefacts are drawn here.



Biography & Relationship with PRM

Active or passive relationship on the part of the Museum

Abrams ?Henry Edward Abrams

If this is H.E. Abrams, then he was a dealer who dealt in ‘antique and high class furniture’ with a shop (called a warehouse) at 44 Broad Street, Oxford. At one time he worked for G.R. and F. Cambray, Broad Street, Oxford, from where he also sold artefacts to the PRM.
Sold objects to Museum in 1898, 1902, 1903, 1906 (the objects from England came in 1903). The items he sold to the Museum were all weapons or musical instruments, all the English items are musical instruments.

Presumably active, Abrams sold successive items to the Museum over a period of 9 years.

Sydney Acott and Company Ltd

Sydney Acott (later renamed Russell & Acott) was based at 124 High Street, Oxford for 105 years until 1998. It was a comprehensive music shop selling musical instruments, and all music related equipment, record shop and bookshop. All the items purchased from Acotts came in the 1940s (1941, 1946, 1948) and are music recordings, bought to demonstrate the kinds of music made in various parts of the world including England.

Presumably active. Most of the purchases were made in the early years of Tom Penniman's curatorship, it is likely that he purchased the items. He was particularly interested in musical boxes and barrel organs and he may also have been interested in recorded music.

Gwladys Marguerite Allchin

Twin sister of Basil Charles Allchin [who gave artefacts to the Museum]. A typist in Oxford at one point. All the items associated with her were donated or sold in 1944 and 1948 when she was based in Oxford.

Gwladys Allchin both donated and sold artefacts to the Museum. The items that were purchased by the Museum were all family heirlooms and likely to be of sentimental value (like samplers and furniture), it seems likely that she was forced to sell them because of problems during the war.

Reginald Andrade

An antique dealer, based in Plympton, Devon according to accession book. Only one item was ever purchased from him, and there were no other contacts. This item was purchased in 1940 and was a model ship. The item had previously been collected (?owned) by a Phillip Johnson of Queen Street, Oxford.


Antique and Modern Furnishing Company

Shop based at 7 Little Clarendon Street, Oxford. Only one item was purchased from there, an English antique bobbin winder in 1939. It is not clear why the artefact was purchased as we have many winders


Albert Henry Baldwin of A.H. Baldwin & Sons

Coin dealer, of Coin and medal shop in Charing Cross, London. The Museum bought several items from him in August 1911 and June 1912, some of which were English. The items are likely to have been purchased by Henry Balfour, the curator at this time, on 2 visits. Most of the items are Asian or European.

Active, for short time.

J. Barnet

5 engravings were purchased from him in 1896. He appears to have been an art dealer of 125 Great Portland Street, Westminster, London. The engravings are all of transport related scenes and are likely to have been bought to enhance displays by Henry Balfour. There is no record, however, of him working on transport related displays in that year. The property is now a bank.

Active, on one occasion.

J. Bateman

Bateman was a dealer based in Gloucester Green, Oxford. It is possible that all 61 objects are from him, but in fact only 29 are definitely from J. Bateman, the remainder are marked as ‘Bateman, Oxford’ and therefore potentially could be from other sources. Items from other countries were also purchased from him but most are English. Items were purchased from 1895-1918, with most being purchased in the 1890s.


R.H. Bedford

Only one item was purchased from this man, in 1902. He lived in Banbury and the item was ploughed up in Leamington in 1901 but he might been the agricultural labourer who found it, and have needed to sell it for extra money.

Presumably passive, Mr Bedford probably brought the object into the museum for sale

Alexander James Montgomerie Bell

Schoolmaster. Most items from the Bell collection were donated by his son [see below] after his death but he did donate some stone tools before his death and he sold a total of 12 artefacts. It is not known why these items specifically were sold rather than donated. They were not purchased at one time. They consist of a stone lamp found at Brasenose College purchased in 1912 for 7/6; 4 stone tools from Oxford and another 5 stone tools from Surrey loaned in 1913, returned to Bell and then sold to the Museum in 1921; and a bone pin and iron arrow head from Oxford purchased in 1921 but found unaccessioned in 2007.

Presumably active, given that most of Bell's large collection was either donated to the Museum during his lifetime or sold to the Museum by his son after his death, an extremely small percentage was actually sold. The prices (and motivation on either side) are unknown.

Archibald Colquhoun Bell

Served in Royal Navy. Son of the above. Sold his father's large collection of stone tools after his death. The Museum holds correspondence between Balfour and A.C. Bell about this purchase.


F.H. Bennett

Bennett worked at the University Museum (of Natural History) in Oxford. He sold 2 pistols belonging to his grandfather, and two further pistols to the Museum on 23 May 1925 for £1 from petty cash

Presumably active.

Laura Emily Bland

nee Shelford, also known as Mrs Robert Norman Bland. Sold a series of Malaysian objects in June 1906 and in October 1906 sold a single lace bobbin winder to the Museum for 6/6 paid from petty cash. Further items from her Portuguese and Malaysian lace collection were later donated to the Museum by Flora Shelford (presumably a relative) in 1919 after her death

Presumably active following her earlier sale.

H.C.J. Bryan

Saddler and harness maker, St Clements Oxford according to accession book. [Mr Bryan states that the business was established in 1880 by his father, then Saddler and Harness Maker to the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars. Mr. Bryan junior was formerly “Maker” of the “Lawn Horse Boot”, a special boot worn by horses, when mowing college lawns.] The items were purchased together, and are all saddling tools, possibly they were either obsolete, or purchased upon his retirement.

Presumably active. The card catalogue says 'bought from' rather than purchased which makes it sound more active, presumably it was either Penniman or Blackwood who initiated the purchase.

Messrs Buck and Hickman Ltd

Company based at Dinmont St. Hackney Road, London E2. Started from small tool shop in the East End of London and slowly expanded nationwide, still in existence. All wood-working tools like adzes The card catalogue mentions that the items purchased were listed in their catalogue so presumably purchased from that by museum staff in 1949 (either Penniman or Blackwood probably) for comparative purposes (as confirmed by accession book entries)


Mrs W. Burdett

Source of a loom, the horse-hair cloth woven on it and a photograph of it, she lived near Norwich. Nothing is known of the seller. She was paid £1.6.6 for the artefacts

Possibly passive

H. Cane

A copper lamp was purchased from this donor in 1953. He lived in Tiddington though the artefact came from Britwell Salome (a distance away). This was the only artefact acquired from this seller.

Possibly passive

Michael Cardew

Potter of Wenford Bridge pottery, Cornwall. His stoneware pots were purchased by the Museum in 1976 and put on a separate display, presumably for comparative purposes. See also Casson and Leach below

Active by unknown museum staff member

Roadnight Carter

Possibly a dealer from Woodstock, in Oxfordshire though it has not been possible to track him down despite his unusual name which may have been a surname rather than first name. All the items were probably purchased from him (a few were found unentered so it is unknown, but it seems likely that they were obtained by purchase as other items were). Most are English and purchased at one time in September 1940. Many relate to lace-making.

Presumably active by either Penniman or Blackwood to contribute to lace making collections which were being actively sought at the time.

Thomas James Carter

Carter sold many artefacts to the Museum, many but not all from England or that he had found himself. He earned his living by dealing in artefacts and lived in Oxford. In addition to dealing directly with Balfour, the Museum also acquired artefacts associated with him via Percy Manning etc.


Mr Cassell

The Museum acquired 4 arrow heads ploughed up on Mr Gaskell's farm at Kiddington near Woodstock Oxon. for 1/- paid from petty cash in December 1904. It is likely that Mr Cassell was the finder

Possibly passive. Mr Cassell might have brought the arrowheads specifically into the Museum for purchase.

Frederick Michael Casson

Potter from Prestwood Buckinghamshire. His stoneware pots were purchased by the Museum in 1976 and put on a separate display, presumably for comparative purposes. See also Cardew above and Leach below

Active by unknown museum staff member

Jeremy Coote

Current member of staff at the Museum who purchased one artefact specifically for the body art displays in the Museum in 2002. The remaining two artefacts were acquired in 2008 for the new painting and pigments display.


J.R. Corbey possibly James R. Corby

A one-off purchase of a stone axe from this seller in January 1914, it was purchased from petty cash for 7/6. It seems likely that as a specific find spot was mentioned [dredged up in Hinksey stream), the seller might have been the finder. A James R. Corby [NB note spelling discrepancy] is listed in the 1901 census as being aged 26, born and lived in Oxford in St Thomas with a profession of river bridger who might be the same person, and would therefore confirm him as finder

Probably passive

Messrs Cox and Company

One-off purchase of a model loom, 6/5 paid for it from petty cash on July 8 1913. Based at 99 New Oxford Street [presumably London], nothing further is known of them


Vicar and churchwardens, Cuddington Parish Church per Anthony John Arkell

2 related items were purchased from Cuddington in 1970, Arkell was then the Vicar of the parish though he had been a museum professional in London earlier in his varied career

Possibly active in that there must have been contact between Arkell and museum staff, but also potentially passive in that Arkell would have appreciated the conservation value of moving the clocks to a museum

W.J. Curtis

A one-off purchase of a ox bone tool found in Hampshire but sold by a vendor from Wantage in July 1935, the item was paid for from petty cash (7/6). Nothing is known of the vendor

Probably passive

Eva Cutter also known as Mrs William Downing Webster

Eva Cutter was a well-known Bloomsbury, London dealer, she specialised in ‘Antique needlework, samplers, antiquities and curiosities’. Later she married W.D. Webster [qv] She sold items to the Museum from other countries, the Museum dealt with her between 1891-1925.

Possibly active though the items are not particularly expensive or interesting, being a tinder box and number of ancient bones used for filing pins

Charles Dack

Dack sold objects to the Museum on two occasions in 1905 (April and November). He was Curator of the Peterborough Museum at the time. All are playing cards. Dack presumably knew Balfour and Balfour might have sought these artefacts though he is not known to have been working on toys and games displays in that year.

Possibly active

The Dorchester Weavers

A single purchase of four weaving related items purchased from this source in May 1939, by an unnamed museum staff member. The items are said, by the card catalogue, to have been purchased 'for use on a loom and wheel used in teaching'. Balfour had died several months earlier so this purchase was probably made by either Penniman the acting Curator or Blackwood.

Probably active

Victor Robert Edwards

Edwards was a gunflint maker from Brandon in Suffolk and four flint knapping specimens were bought from him to show technique in November 1939, again probably either by Penniman or Blackwood. He was paid 15 shillings