Analysing the English Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum

The products of industry? The early development of the Pitt Rivers Museum

Alison Petch,
Researcher 'The Other Within' project

1897.69.8A Front of the plate showing the Prince Regent and Maria Anne Fitzherbert.

1897.69.8A Front of the plate showing the Prince Regent and Maria Anne Fitzherbert.

1927.46.14 Pocket sized combined compass and sundial

1927.46.14 Pocket sized combined compass and sundial

1884.27.39 Baker rifle.

1884.27.39 Baker rifle.

1940.9.21 Kennedy's Mandolin, played in the trenches

1940.9.21 Kennedy's Mandolin, played in the trenches

Illustration 2. 1945.5.83 Watchcock donated by Arthur Thomson

Illustration 2. 1945.5.83 Watchcock donated by Arthur Thomson

1945.6.124 Desk presented to Miss S.U. Powys

1945.6.124 Desk presented to Miss S.U. Powys

1993.21.2 Riot shield donated by Thames Valley Police

1993.21.2 Riot shield donated by Thames Valley Police

English pocket pistol tinder-box bequeathed by Balfour 1938.35.1101

English pocket pistol tinder-box bequeathed by Balfour 1938.35.1101

Russian enamelled tinder box bequeathed by Balfour 1938.35.799

Russian enamelled tinder box bequeathed by Balfour 1938.35.799


This paper was written for a Friday lunchtime seminar at the Pitt Rivers Museum, it was sparked by something Beatrice Blackwood wrote in 1970 which I have often thought about since I first read it:

Questions are sometimes asked about the scope and range of the collections [of the Pitt Rivers Museum]. The Museum takes the world for its province, and for its period, from the earliest times to the present day, excluding the results of mass production. [Blackwood, 1970: 16, emphasis mine]

As I have carried out my day-to-day work in the Museum over the years I have not been able to stop pondering these words. Why, when I saw the products of industrial or mass production in many vitrines, had these words been written in a book which was as close as it gets to a mission statement for the first 100 years of the Museum's life?

The dictionary definition of mass production is:

The manufacture of goods in large quantities by an automated process.

In other words to produce artefacts by an industrial process or by the use of machines. Industrial manufacture is defined as:

The action or process of making or producing articles, material, or a commodity (in modern use, usually on a large scale) by physical labour, machinery, etc.

I also wondered at the slightly pejorative reaction that Blackwood's statement gave me, that somehow the hand-made was 'better' or more interesting than the machine-made even though both were equally the products of human inventiveness. This uncomfortableness with the concept of mass production; and the belief in the uniqueness of some forms of objects seem to be a common thread for many (perhaps, most or all) museum collections and curators. It is also an attitude shared by some members of the public. To me, it is as important to celebrate the human ingenuity inherent in industrialization as it is to marvel at a single handcrafted item. Both are the result of a combination of human manual dexterity and developed intellectual capacity. They are interesting for showing ranges of technical solutions to the same sorts of problems. To my mind the intermeshing of industrial processes, machines and human endeavour globally is too close to allow any sensible distinction.

I can see that a Museum needs to limit its remit in some ways but this dictum does not seem to me to have been matched in reality nor does it, in fact, correspond with the beliefs behind the founding collection of the Museum. The Museum, as an institution, through Blackwood in 1970, may have positioned itself against the acquisition of the creations of mass production but the collections have many such examples. This was recognized even by Blackwood:

Our Founder felt very strongly that his methods could and should be applied not only to present or recent arts and industries, but also to those of the distant past ...' [Blackwood, 1970: 9]

The inconsistency of these two statements from the same book do not seem to have occurred to her. Of course she may have been, or probably was, using 'industries' in the sense of 'Intelligent or clever working; skill, ingenuity, dexterity, or cleverness in doing anything' rather than meaing industrial in the sense used above, but she must also have recognized that she was implying the second reading as well as the first. It is generally accepted that the Pitt Rivers Museum has always emphasised the collection of items that were 'ordinary and typical', though Blackwood was not the first to acknowledge that it also possessed 'many objects of rarity, beauty, and value.' [Blackwood, 1970: 8] However, it is hard not to think of the production of stone tools as a form of mass production, and we have plenty of those in the collections.

This seeming concentration on the 'primitive' or hand-made in the case of artefacts is mirrored by a particular view of anthropology. In the dictionary it is defined as 'the study of man or mankind in the widest sense'. Ethnography was generally agreed to be 'the scientific description of nations or races of men, with their customs, habits, and points of difference'. This view of the subject matter does not preclude looking at any human society, however 'developed'. Indeed, these days social anthropologists examine many aspects of modern European life, for example. Do ethnographic museums, therefore, if they shy away from the merchandise of industrial production, in fact fail to serve their entire purpose?

I have always been interested, by some personal quirk of character, in de-bunking the various myths that have arisen around the Pitt Rivers Museum, like the old canard about it being a 'museum of museums' (which I will not address here but I totally refute). Here, I felt, was another myth in the making, that the museum only dealt with the handmade, the one-off. I think the lasting effects of this dictum, if accepted, would be pernicious as it allies itself too closely with a narrow definition of what the museum could, and in my opinion should, be about; which is, according to the first part of our current mission statement, to celebrate '... human ingenuity and creative skill'.

This paper explores the early development of the Pitt Rivers Museum in the light of industrialization, mass production and 'modern' industrial products. It will concentrate on the period up to 1939 because of lack of space, but of course it would be equally relevant to review the post World War II situation. I have centred the paper on the English collections as they are the current focus of my attention.


The products of industry?

The accepted cliché about Oxford is of an ancient English university town: dreaming spires, narrow lanes, ancient buildings and bicycles. No-one can deny that there is some verity in this stereotype but it is not the whole truth. The Pitt Rivers Museum was founded in 1884, some hundred years after the introduction of industrial processes had changed the face of Britain (and later, the world) for ever. But in that year Oxford was still dominated by the University, its major employer. The population mostly still lived and worked in what is now the city centre, with small developments along the access roads into the city. In 1913, a man named William Morris (not that one) began to make cars in Cowley, since then the city has been a manufacturing centre. From the start of the twentieth century its population increased rapidly to provide the workforce for the expanding industrial enterprises. The relationships between the two halves, or 'town and gown' (as another cliché commonly applied to Oxbridge puts it), are complex and have, at times, been troubled.

Although the collections of the University of Oxford are global in terms of their reach and importance, one might expect them to reflect, at least in part, their home institution and the city that surrounds them. Mass production has played a major role in making Oxford, and the UK, the place it is today but have the ethnographic collections of Oxford University reflected the changing face of the surrounding society?

The University as a whole had always had collections from Oxfordshire and England (many now in the Ashmolean Museum and Bodleian Library). It is perhaps surprising that the Pitt Rivers Museum, seen as the repository of 'foreign' and exotic material, also accumulated a sizeable English collection from its earliest years, which is the focus of this entire research project website.

The Pitt Rivers Museum was founded by the donation of a collection from Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers which had set defining characteristics. The first, and best known of these, was that the artefacts were divided typologically, that is by the similar definition of function or form. The second characteristic of the early displays reflected the personal interests of the donor of the first collection, and of anthropology at that time—an interest in the evolution of technology and of people. It may be this latter characteristic which gives us a clue as to one of the potential uses of a large English collection: as a comparator, 'norm' or known starting point against which the products of more 'exotic' societies could be judged.

Augustus Pitt Rivers is thought to have begun to collect in the 1850s, when he served on ‘... the sub-committee of small arms at Woolwich in the experiments which led to the introduction of the rifle-musket into the army... and it occurred to [him] what an interesting thing it would be to have a museum in which all these successive stages of improvement might be placed in the order of their occurrence.’ [Pitt Rivers, 1891: 118-119] In other words, he became interested in collecting because of a particular technology or mass production process and design. Not at all coincidentally 1851 was the year of the Great Exhibition where the products of the new industrial age were laid out as an advertisement for the wealth and industry of the British nation and empire.

What was important to Pitt Rivers was the primitive-civilized axis or progression, rather than specific cultures (or points in history) per se. Thanks to Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer the later nineteenth century was obsessed with evolution and the origin of things and beings. It is unsurprising, therefore, that Pitt Rivers (and later Balfour) became interested in 'primitive' things (seeing them as nearer the origins). It did not really matter where the primitive things came from, indeed, the large European archaeological collections attest to the idea that if 'primitive' (ie technologically simple) things could be found near to home, so much the better, because they were easier to collect and perhaps showed more about local origins. For this reason strict provenance was not the first consideration.

Industrial products from England were the earliest beginnings of the founding collection, and could even be said to be its core. Amongst Pitt Rivers's overall collection were many artefacts from England and the rest of Europe. These included many modern items (especially weapons, food and fire related items, horse equipment etc) which had been created by industrial processes. A typical example might be this Naval boarding axe which is described as a 'Modern [that is, 19th century] English boarding axe. The spike is to fix into the ship's side in climbing the sides of a vessel' [1884.20.56] It may be that this collection of modern objects was a reflection of his view that modern English man was at the top of the human evolutionary scale. The collection of contemporary examples of firearm technology may have reinforced the Victorian English peoples' smug beliefs in their own technological superiority and standard-setting. Displays of weapons can be seen as quite literally the displays of the spoils of evolutionary war, a war which must have seemed to him to have been 'won' by his own culture and time.

The part of the founding collection from England (a total of 6,219 artefacts) are similar in composition to his European collection, dominated by archaeological artefacts, particularly pottery vessels and sherds and stone tools. However, he did collect some English items that can be defined as ethnographic [309 objects, 5 per cent of total]. There are several categories which reflect modern developments of technology in the nineteenth century including a number of firearms and firearm accessories which represent 16 per cent of the ethnographic total. So far as can be judged the vast majority of these artefacts were manufactured in the nineteenth century, in other words clearly post-Industrial Revolution.

It can be argued that ethnographic collections from 'Home' were acquired by museums for two reasons. The first reason was particularly important in the context of the Pitt Rivers Museum with its overarching interest in the development of technology and its historical belief in the evolution of design. Recent English, British and European artefacts were used as comparators (or in the case of Pitt Rivers' own evolutionary views, as end products). The second reason is the great interest at the end of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century, in English folk-lore and survivals of material culture. The second would perhaps suggest a predominance of interest in the hand-made and quaint, and not in the everyday and prosaic. In fact the Museum certainly did acquire folkloric artefacts (for example witches' ladders, donated by Edward Burnett Tylor in 1911 [1911.32.7-8] and discussed here. But it also acquired far more items of prosaic (and industrial) nature, for example the many examples of match-boxes acquired by Henry Balfour in the period up to 1939, in his examination of the development of lighting in Europe and England.

The general tenor of the Pitt Rivers Museum was set by the founding donation. In fact it was a requirement of accepting the donation that the University of Oxford agreed '... [t]hat the general mode of arrangement at present adopted in the Collection be maintained; ... any change in details to be made subsequently shall be such only as are necessitated by the advance of knowledge, and as do not affect the general principle originated by the donor'. ... However, very little time elapsed after 1884 before the museum began to acquire new artefacts, change displays and generally move the Museum in new directions. Most of this work for the next 50 years or more was led (and actioned) by Henry Balfour, the first Curator of the Museum. If Pitt Rivers had guided the collection up to 1884, it was Balfour who led it forward until 1939. His contribution to the museum is still to be felt and seen all around us. What was his attitude to industrial products?

Henry Balfour was an Oxford University-trained natural scientist who in October 1885 was asked by his old tutor, Henry Nottidge Moseley, to assist the unpacking and arranging of the ‘Pitt Rivers Anthropology Collection’ at the University Museum. This was the start of his career in the Museum which ended with his death in 1939, still at work, aged seventy-five. The initial work of unpacking and arranging took many years to complete, particularly as the founding collection was soon joined by transfers from the Ashmolean and Oxford University Museums.

Within a year or so of being in post, Balfour was not only passively accepting new acquisitions but also actively seeking them. The first new object that was accessioned by the Museum was an English iron arrow head found at Godstow, just outside Oxford city, donated by Henry Willett in July 1885. The first artefact definitely received from Henry Balfour into the collections was also an English artefact, a Davy safety lamp donated in April 1888. The first artefact known to have been actively acquired by the Museum was a Tibetan praying mill purchased from Gamlen in February 1888. The first English item to be purchased by the Museum was a watchman's rattle from Parker (a dealer) in Pembroke Street, Oxford in September 1889. Given that the first few years of the Museum's existence must have been busily occupied opening packing cases and arranging displays it is impressive that within a year of the founding collection being accepted by the University new English artefacts were being accessioned.

Balfour always carried out his own research, very little of which was published but some of which must have been disseminated in his series of lectures given to diploma students in the Museum. He had a holistic and accumulative attitude to research. His manuscript collection, held by the Pitt Rivers Museum, contains a cabinet whose drawers are stuffed with slips of paper, photographs, notes, sketches and letters referring to the use of objects or particular technologies. As Larson has documented, 'for Balfour, material culture, literature, photographs and first-hand observation were all equally essential, incontestable forms of evidence for cultural traditions, and, as far as his particular research interests were concerned, he collected all these forms of data unreservedly.' [pers. comm.]

Problems of space, staff and time never inhibited Henry Balfour either from carrying out his own research or from acquiring new artefacts. Among the objects that most interested him were several that, at least in England, had been, for some considerable time, made by industrial processes, including fire-making appliances, lighting and musical instruments. Balfour certainly acquired many objects which had been made at least partly by machine and using mass production methodology; a feature which does not seem to have deterred him from acquiring them. For example (like Pitt Rivers) he collected many firearms and other weapons and more random items such as safety pins used as small change. Balfour was not, therefore, adverse to collecting modern, Industrial Age artefacts. Indeed many of his ethnographic objects can be seen as modern, and some were definitely manufactured using industrial processes.

Balfour preferred facts to theory but, although he was not theoretically focussed, his early papers do show the influence both of the evolutionary approach to design traditions, popularized by General Pitt Rivers, and Balfour’s own training as a natural scientist specializing in animal morphology. Although he moved away from a purely evolutionary stance as his career progressed, he did not divorce himself completely from it and was certainly ill-at-ease with the theoretical position of other anthropologists employed by the University by the end of his career. Unlike Pitt Rivers, he never believed that there was a single historical line of development from the primitive to the civilized. For this reason he was as much interested in diffusion as evolution. As Larson has suggested [pers. comm.] the vast majority of his writings, 'took a single type of object – the bone skate (1898), the fire-piston (1907), or the fishing-kite (1913), for example – and laid out the evidence, found in the variations of physical form, for its geographical and historical distribution.'

One of his chief interests was in fire-making technologies, which he seems to have collected from early in his career. At first he seems to have concentrated on English, modern, items, perhaps because it was easier to acquire such objects in the small amount of leisure time he had available or because he had not yet gained the networks of connections that would allow him to obtain many ethnographic objects in the future. In 1888-9 he bought several bundles of sulphur matches from Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and tinder boxes from Guernsey and Surrey. He also acquired similar artefacts from Brittany and Norway which he visited in that year. This small number of fire-related objects grew eventually into a substantial collection, he eventually donated (or bequeathed) 488 English fire-related artefacts (over half of all the English fire-related items in the collections), and 1,759 acquired globally.

The relative strength of Balfour's European collections (54 per cent of his total collection) and the dominance of tinder boxes and matches within this (even within his English collections) show that he was just as interested in Western fire-making traditions as he was in more remote practices. As I have intimated before, it is probable that Balfour did not see cultural practices in a dualistic (civilized versus primitive) fashion but saw them as one unified, but diverse, history. It was therefore just as important for him to study English material culture as it was to analyse data from further afield. The need to make fire for survival purposes is universal for human beings and that ability distinguishes them from all other animals. To achieve survival through fire-making has been realized in many different ways over time and space. Looking at fire technology can not only show what is uniquely human but also what a variety of different design solutions there can be.

Whilst it is likely that Balfour acquired much of his fire-making collection himself, he did receive other things from a variety of friends and acquaintances. His interest was fostered by correspondence and collaboration with many other English collectors in the field (including Frederick William Robins, Miller Christy and Edward Bidwell). His early interest in fire technology was sparked by an interest (shared with Pitt Rivers) in the development of firearm technology, specifically the development of matchlock, wheel-lock and flint-lock guns. His earliest acquisitions explored ignition techniques that were in daily use either currently or little more than fifty years earlier: the design of matches, lighters and tinder boxes. That Balfour began his collecting with this type of object, things that most British people took for granted during their everyday life, showed his wide-ranging interest in material culture and the everyday.

After Balfour's death in 1939 Penniman took over as Curator and was in post until 1963. His period at the helm was a strange one, he himself contributed little to the collections and from the accounts in the Annual Reports of the Museum seems to have devoted much of his time to improving maintenance of the Museum buildings and to preparing the two card catalogues with Blackwood. The only English objects he is directly associated with are two tape recordings of masque performances at Ludlow Castle in 1958. He presumably encouraged some of the other English donations during his Curatorship particularly, perhaps, in the areas he was personally interested in; archaeology and musical instruments, particularly music boxes.

Perhaps the most interested person to look at in regard to mass production is Beatrice Blackwood herself, given that her statement was the starting-point of this whole paper. She gave a total of 581 English ethnographic objects. A large number of these [268] were English schoolchildren's drawings (used for comparative purposes with similar drawings obtained by her in North America and Oceania). A significant proportion of the remaining artefacts (which are of many varied types) are nineteenth century or more recent, for example a pair of 19th century lorgonettes or a knife, one of a set of saddler's tools, obtained by her from Mr Lodder of Teynham, Kent. Many of these objects are machine-made and probably mass-produced.

It is harder to assess and give an overview the general English collections acquired up to the present than it is to look specifically at Pitt Rivers', Balfour's or Blackwood's. It is even harder to identify all the items that were specifically mass produced or even machine-made from other entries in the museum's databases. There are a total of 12,844 English ethnographic objects which were not donated by Balfour or Pitt Rivers up to 2006, at least a third of these were obtained by 1945. Again the core groups of classes are prominent: fire-related material, weapons especially firearms, and lighting appliances. Of these many appear to be not historical but modern in origin. Relatively few items in the collections have dates of manufacture, so this will always be a supposition rather than a fact, but reviewing the entries suggests that significant numbers are clearly industrial in origin.

An obvious question to ask is: Why did or does the Pitt Rivers Museum acquire English artefacts, and specifically modern post-Industrial Revolution artefacts? As I intimated before they could obviously be used a comparison points for other, more exotic or archaeological, specimens. This is certainly how Balfour perceived at least part of their function as some items are specifically referred to as being accessioned for comparative purposes, for example:

1925.8.4 A 'modern English' double trepanning saw obtained for comparison with Algerian examples by Henry Balfour in 1925


1901.5.1 A wooden pin-block used by jewellers for filing pins, for comparison with bone pin blocks from London excavations

However, a more contemporary take on this might be to demonstrate an interest in the totality of different cultures that today make England and the world. if ethnographic collections have any long term use then they must show life and material culture as it is really lived today and not some 'craft' version. If ethnography is to totally meet its definition it should look at all types of societies, no matter how developed, and examine the material culture of them in all its aspects, no matter how 'mass produced'. A plastic cereal bowl shows as much about our society (see, for example, Clarke 2004) as the wooden trencher from Winchester School [1890.43.1] purchased by the Museum in 1890 or an early 1800s china plate decorated with an image of an early form of bicycle [1897.69.8][the first illustration on this page](this plate is discussed further at englishness-dandy-plate.html).

Maybe it is because other people associated with the Museum agree with Balfour and I that you cannot look at human beings and their material culture without seeing it in the round. To ignore the products of mass production is to ignore a significant and interesting part of the whole story. To present human artefacts as though all interest stopped at the start of the Industrial Revolution, or to concentrate only on modern craft products is to present a picture of a stagnant, non-modern, irrelevant collection.

Examining the English collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum make it clear that the Museum has always accumulated the products of industrial process even if it has never actually set out to do so. In stark contrast to the inherited intention of the Museum to examine design and technologies, it may be that in this particular technological process it has not been considered to form the primary reason for the interest in the object. In other words, the industrial processes involved in manufacturing a firearm or a matchbox were not considered so intrinsically interesting as some other aspect of them, which might be unique to that object. If this were so, though, it seems odd to prescribe against the collection of items that are mass-produced. This anomaly is hard to explain and is at the core of this article's dilemma.

Even an interest in the overtly folkloric English artefact does not necessarily preclude mass production. There are undoubtedly items in the Pitt Rivers Museum which were collected purely from the belief that they were either survivals of long dead beliefs or that they were items which were being salvaged from the onslaught of modern society and their inevitable decline. These items are the standard ones associated with folk-lore and belief, often viewed as superstitious (though the Museum even-handedly defines them as 'religious items'). The vast majority of these items appear to be hand-made and unique. However, some are clearly mass produced as with the recent example of a divining fish obtained from a Christmas cracker [1998.16.1] or the 'pins of old fashioned form found' by Osbert Crawford, '70 feet deep in the well of the Keep at Carisbrooke Castle, I[sle] of Wight, 1912, Found with halfpence of George II and tokens, evidently votive offerings at a “Wishing Well”.' [1912.28.1 .1-9] What appears to have been important about these items was the theoretical slant given to them, particularly by Tylor (who was of course, very interested in survivals) and Blackwood (a key member of the Folklore Society). In fact, as with membership of more mainstream learned societies such as the Royal Anthropological Institute and the Society of Antiquaries all the named people in this paper were also members of the Folklore Society.

In the same way that mass production has been collected, but ignored; issues of trade (as opposed to diffusion which was deliberately addressed during Balfour's curatorship) have rather been ignored in the displays of the Museum. Many products of early industrialization processes (for example the products of foundries, and glass-making) have been traded extensively throughout the world from the first industrial powerhouse of Britain. Looked at in this way, a huge number of artefacts in the Museum have been affected by industrialization. Although it is not the place of this paper to review such issues in detail, I would argue that as the use of a bead from Czechoslovakia in a sub-Saharan ornament enhances its interest for a collection, so museums should also accept and collect industrial products which are in everyday use, wherever they are manufactured or used. In essense my argument is that it is human ingenuity and use that are the most interesting aspects of material culture and these should be collected and studied in all their aspects. At least sub-consciously, past and present museum staff have obviously agreed with me as we have both many trade goods and many mass produced items in our collections now.

It is interesting to see that an avowedly 'ethnographic' museum has in fact accommodated products of mass production from its inception. What is even more interesting is that it seems to have refused to acknowledge or accommodate this fact. The Pitt Rivers Museum's own formal mission statement today states that it will celebrate 'human ingenuity and creative skill', it does not mention mass production. It is to be hoped that the Museum will meet the challenge of its own mission statement in all its aspects, and overtly accept that some artefacts are indisputably the results of mass or industrial production because these are as much a product of human talent as any hand-made item. This would require the presence of industrial process (and the outcomes of such processes) within museum displays and an integration of all aspects of contemporary material culture and life to illustrate how humans, over time and space, have found differing technological solutions to common human problems. Today the intermeshing of industrial processes, machines and human endeavour globally is too close to allow any sensible distinction. It is hard not to think of the production of stone tools as a form of mass production in ancient times, and there have always been plenty of those in the Pitt Rivers Museum's collections. As the entire world becomes industrialized, if an ethnographic museum like the Pitt Rivers Museum does not accept and accommodate industrial processes it will stagnate and wither. The future for the Museum is to accept the modern, or die.

Further Reading

Balfour, Henry 1890 ‘The Origin of Decorative Art as Illustrated by the Art of Modern Savages’ Midland Naturalist

Balfour, Henry 1894 ‘Evolution in Decorative Art’ Journal of the Society of Arts

Balfour, Henry 1898 ‘Notes on the Modern Use of Bone Skates’ from Reliquary and Illustrated Archaeologist

Balfour, Henry. 1904 Presidential Address to the Anthropological Section of BAAS: The Relationship of Museums to the Study of Anthropology. Journal of the Anthropological Institute 34 [1904] 10-19, Museums Journal vol. 3, June 1904, pp 396-408.

Balfour, Henry 1907 ‘The Fire-Piston’, in W.H.R. Rivers, R.R. Marett and N.W. Thomas (eds.), Anthropological Essays presented to Edward Burnett Tylor in honour of his 75th Birthday Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 17-50.

Balfour, Henry, 1913 ‘Kite-fishing’ in E.C. Quiggin (ed.) Essays and Studies presented to William Ridgeway on his Sixtieth Birthday Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Blackwood, Beatrice. 1970. The Classification of Artefacts in the Pitt Rivers Museum Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bowden, Mark. 1991. Pitt Rivers - The life and archaeological work of Lt. General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers DCL FRS FSA. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK

Chapman, W.R. 1981 Ethnology in the Museum. Unpublished D. Phil thesis, vols I and II, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

Clarke, Alison J. 2004 Tupperware: the promise of plastic in 1950s America Washington, Smithsonian Institution Press

Haddon, A.C. 1940 ‘Henry Balfour 1863-1940’ in Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society London: Morrison + Gibb Ltd.

Petch, Alison. 1996 'Weapons and the 'Museum of Museums'' Journal of Museum Ethnography, vol. 8 May 1996: 11 – 22

Petch, Alison. 1998. ‘‘Man as he was and Man as he is’: General Pitt Rivers’ collections’ Journal of the History of Collections 10 no. 1 (1998) pp 75 - 85 Oxford University Press

Petch, Alison. 2006 'Chance and Certitude: Pitt Rivers and his first collection' Journal of the History of Collecting Oxford University Press pp. 249-256

Rivers, Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt 1874. Catalogue of the Anthropological Collection lent by Colonel Lane Fox for exhibition in the Bethnal Green branch of the South Kensington Museum June 1874 Parts I and II. London, Science and Art Department of the Committee of Council on Education HMSO [Re-issued 1879]

Rivers, Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt 1883. On the development and distribution of primitive locks and keys: illustrated by specimens in the Pitt Rivers Collection. Chatto and Windus London UK

Rivers, Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt 1891 'Typological Museums, as exemplified by the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford and his provincial museum in Farnham Dorset' Journal of the Society of Arts 40 [1891] 115-22

Thompson, M.W. 1977. General Pitt Rivers: Evolution and Archaeology in the Nineteenth Century. Moonraker Press, Bradford-on-Avon UK


I want to warmly acknowledge the help of Fran Larson, from the 'Relational Museum' project, who was kind enough to allow me to use her research in parts of this paper and also made many helpful suggestions.

This webpage is based on a presentation by me to a Friday lunchtime seminar in 2007.

 Technologies & Materials