Analysing the English Collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum

Artifacts that show techniques and technologies

Alison Petch,
Researcher 'The Other Within' project

Model of bellows from Ceylon made by Henry Balfour in 1913 [Plate 1 Coghlan '... Prehistoric Metallurgy' 1951]

Model of bellows from Ceylon made by Henry Balfour in 1913 [Plate 1 Coghlan '... Prehistoric Metallurgy' 1951]

There are many artefacts in the collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum that have been acquired in order to show something about a particular manufacture technique or technology. As will be seen from the entries, there are different motivations for producing the models and facsimiles.

I have omitted from the list examples of tools used to make items, though they are very relevant to this form of enquiry and the Museum has many examples. I have also omitted the very large number of specimens given by Alfred Schwartz Barnes and Francis Knowles, among others, showing particular stone tool technologies. These are discussed elsewhere (see the large number of relevant webpages listed under Technologies and Materials to left). The other kind of technology or technique for which we have a very large number of samples is lace-making. That also is not included here and is discussed separately.

Technique samples
1884.118.245 Ox scapula hafted to a stout stake bound with cord, covered with black composition at the top: made by General Pitt Rivers as a possible method of hafting as a spade in Neolithic Times
1884.119.204 Long bell-shaped celt in a modern wooden copy of mould England
1903.6.25 'Board showing method of making jingle-rattles from canarium nuts. 1. the entire nut 2. Nut with scar broken through, the kernal [sic] remaining 3. Nut cleaned out and perforated at top, ready for use.'
1905.49.3 Card showing process of manufacture of fish hooks...made by Allcock and Co., Redditch
1906.1.7 Specimen of ancient lath & plaster from ceiling of the old portion of his home, the Nash, Worcester, showing the use of whole wattle-sticks.
1908.38.2 Specimen illustrating loop-weaving through a bobbin
1914.11.47 Reel of string showing the 'modern' method of winding a ball of string.
1936.48.1 Series of stages in the manufacture of wire-headed pins, from the floor sweepings of the old Pin-factory at Bishop Hooper’s Lodging, GLOUCESTER (Now converted into a Museum)
1945.10.181 Dissection of a composite bow
1948.11.20 Oxfordshire, Shutford (nr Banbury) Boat shaped wooden block 9" long of box, cut ready for making a shuttle
1957.3.6 Two specimens of iron, each 8 1/2 in.-9 in. long, made by donor, illustrating the construction of pattern-welded swords
1959.7.1 Stages in the manufacture of Bryant and May “Swan Vesta” matches and match-boxes
1968.6.1-12 Collection of jewellery made from Devonian fossil coral (including raw material)
1976.19.45 Paper sheet describing hand-shadows and how to make them
1985.18.19 Bull roarer, lecture model made by H. Balfour of light wood, one side painted black. Hole at one end with string attached.
1985.18.20 Bullroarer, made by H. Balfour as demonstration piece
1994.41 Violin and a collection of violin-making material
2004.35.1-2 Ball of green wool used to demonstrate the use of free heddle weaving.
2004.47.1-5 Frames containing examples which illustrate various coiled basketry techniques.
2004.206.1 Pot made by Balfour using spiral technique to demonstrate method of pot making that uses no potter's wheel.
2004.206.2 Flat ?dish made by Balfour using spiral technique to demonstrate method of pot making that uses no potter's wheel.
2005.43.1 Diagram-model to show technique of making leaf puzzles
2008.67.1 Book containing braiding instructions and samples of watch-chain braids.

Model artefacts made to show how a thing was constructed
1884.122.406 Grey core of wood with rounded ends, base cut off and body cut like flakes longitudinally. Model to show flaking process
1913.72.1 Model loom
1940.12.168 Models illustrating types of flaking [stone tool technology]
1942.11.19 Series of 12 wood, plaster and cardboard models; and one flint core; to illustrate human flaking technique (for Exhibition Case, Sect. 1).
1943.2.1 Series of 13 plaster and wood models; and 8 flint cores: to illustrate Human Flaking Technique (for Exhibition Case, Sect. II)
1945.10.212 Modern working model of catapult, evidently on Roman plan, possibly made for General Pitt Rivers
1947.1.1 Model - in wood, c. 15" long, made by donor, of typical Kentish 'dung-cart', with horse - All details correct - Tips up, Back, 'lades' (extensions to sides and front) etc. and harness removeable - Type becoming obsolete [there are a lot of other transport and navigation models, not all of them are obviously for this purpose]
1985.18.23 Model of a kite bow, made by H. Balfour. Bow made of split reed, buzzer of split quill.
1988.19.1 Working model of the Shrewsbury Pannier Monorail System. This was developed for transporting teak logs in Burma by Richard William Shrewsbury, who patented the device in 1907. Returning from Burma in 1911 he attempted to develop his invention, but his work was curtailed by the outbreak of World War I. The monorail demonstrates the principle of suspension of a load rigidly below the level of the track. It was said to be very safe, efficient and smooth-running. Found at the Indian Institute Library in 1988. It appears to have been transferred there from the Oxford University Forestry Department, which received it from the Forestry Commission some time prior to 1980
1992.5.8 Old label in General Pitt Rivers' handwriting states: 'Wooden lock in use at the present time 1887 at Adel, Yorkshire. From a sketch supplied by Mr. Romilly Allen.' With an old iron key, tied to it with string. The lock is a simple bolt which may be operated from the outside the door. The key is inserted through a slot in the door and fits into a hole in the bolt, which can then be moved.
1992.5.12 Reproduction of a Roman tumbler lock in 5 parts: 2 wooden pieces (.1-.2), brass plate (.3) and 2 brass rivets (.4-.5). Probably made with the parts loose intentionally, to show the structure. Some parts may be missing. Model presumably made by or for General Pitt Rivers.

Model artefacts made to show how a thing was used
1896.43.1 Set of specimens illustrating use of bristles and pegs in handmade bootmaking
1906.20.268 Working model of old hand fire-engine “Fire Brigade No. 1.”
1892.46.1 Model illustrating manner of splitting a growing ground ash sapling for passing a ruptured child through to cure disease, after one used this way a few years ago nr Wellington, Somerset


Note that the model used as an illustration on this page is 1913.8.1 Model of obsolete iron-smelting furnace with bellows of the type employed in ancient Egypt, Ceylon - The model (scale 2 inches = 1 foot) was made by H. Balfour from illustrations given by Koomaraswani in his “Ancient Arts in Ceylon”.

 Technologies & Materials