This is the Jackson Oxford Journal November 10 ?1888 * account of a visit by the Oxford Architectural and Historical Society to the University Museum at Oxford Pitt-Rivers collection.

Oxford Architectural and Historical Society

The members of this Society and their friends, to the number of about thirty-five, assembled in the University Museum on Saturday last at 2.15, and were received by Dr Tylor in the section of the Museum founded by General Pitt-Rivers.

Dr Tylor said he was expecting and hoping that before very long they would have the cases in the gallery completed and then they would have a guide-book illustrated with the plans of the cases, and an index to each. However, it did not now exist, so they must be good enough to take him for a handbook, and he would describe each as they went round. He said it was not a collection of curiosities, and not simply a collection of articles ancient or modern, though containing illustrations of articles of both ancient and modern times. It was founded by General Pitt-Rivers and in two or three cases might be seen specimens which led him to devote so much of his life and wealth to collecting. Engaged in reporting at the Crimean war on the arms of the British soldier, who carried at that time the weapon known as "Brown Bess," General Pitt-Rivers, one of the persons to whom the question was committed, was surprised to find that inventions were not made by leaps and bounds. Things existed of which all were ignorant, and only now and then were weapons made in large numbers. He set himself to collect rifles, barrels and locks. Bringing them together, he found that one must look for improvement in weapons in one form or another till a type was reached. The collecting these led to his setting himself to accumulate weapons and various other things illustrating the gradual growth of war implements, as well offensive as defensive, and these ethnological materials have taken this large building to house. It was simple and easy enough to begin with matchlocks, which were used by putting a linstock match to the touch-hole. This being inconvenient, bent wire was so arranged as to hold the fire, and, by a movement of the hand, to bring it to the touchhole by means of a trigger. Then wheellocks were applied, to adapt that purpose, which was merely an adaptation of the same idea, pyrites being substituted for the match. Flint, by re-adaptation of the old instrument, puts its nose to the grindstone and fired the spark, and in a very little while flint was generally adopted. When the percussion cup [sic] was introduced it followed the same lines, and the movement was gradual and continuous; what naturalists call development was employed, and not a new invention. Another series illustrates what happens in invention; the shield, which subsequently became a screen, grew in the same way. The Australians used sticks for such purpose, and one practised in their use allowed three or four men to throw cricket balls at him without once being hit by them. (Applause.) These sticks grew into very narrow shields, as illustrated in the next case, and eventually became screens. The original idea of this parrying stick may be traced in these narrow shields. Illustrations show among highly-civilized people in Greece and Rome to what this grew, and in the middle age they were largely used. The Chinese used shields with tigers painted upon them, and they imitated the roar of the animal to strike terror in their enemies. We have the parrying sticks  thus expanded, and eventually the shield became a screen, behind which a warrior might retire, but he could not see what happened in front. They had no Highland target in the collection. Garments were also made and padded which no arrow could penetrate. Bone scales were sewn upon them, then rings of iron or steel, which became very common, and ring armour was the result. The use of scales became "plate armour" by a similar development, and thus we come to familiar history. The introduction of fire-arms rendered armour useless. The breast-plate has undergone a similar development. Corslets also were used in Cromwellian times, and after they became useless the form remained, and was used till the end of the last century, and is still used on the Continent, objects once useful and practical become objects of mere ceremony. The earliest form of obtaining fire was the rapid friction of cross-sticks, and a most curious point is the way in which it has lasted. It was the duty of the Pontifex to take pains to create new fire on the altar, but no specimen of sacred fire drill has come to us. The theory is they are done for real and serious reasons, but they are simply due to momentum. [sic] Cases are set apart to illustrate the development of musical instruments. They begin with the rudest development of the familiar bow. Placed between the teeth, he may produce sounds which he can enjoy, though inaudible to others; but the roof of the mouth made the sound audible to him. Replace the mouth by a gourd and others may enjoy the sound: from this has risen harps, fiddles, and all musical instruments. The drum is a bell of another kind leading up to bells with swinging clappers. There are trumpets of all kinds in another case. At the bottom of the room are boats of all kinds - from logs of wood laced together to form rafts, trunks of trees scooped out to make room for paddlers; some are skin-covered, and upon the American lakes they have been made of birch bark. Double paddles were not used, and with skill the single paddle is sufficient. Others show the heightening of the sides by the addition of gunwales, pegged, bolted, or sewn with thongs. One of the cases shows developments of clothing. The pottery case shows the development of ornament, and of the artistic faculty, which is something not the same as the aesthetic origin of ornamental work. He directed attention to ornamental lines upon a wooden vessel, and showed how the turnings were repeated in terra-cotta and the knottings of string upon one gourd were indicated by paintings upon another; and the so-called Grecian ornaments were imitations of basket work, maintaining that all such ornament originated in something practical and real.

Mr Parker, in proposing that the thanks of the meeting be given to Dr Tylor, claimed that the extremely interesting lecture they had just listened to was especially one which the Society, since Professor Goldwin Smith's Presidency, came within the historical side of their title.

The thanks were hearty, and signified by the applause of the members, who dispersed to examine the various cases described by the Curator, Dr Tylor.

* This visit took place either in 1888 or 1889, unfortunately the press cutting only gives the month and day, not the year but all the press cuttings in S&SWM PR press cuttings file date from these two years.

A Highland target shield [1888.46.1] is listed in the accession books of the PRM as being accessioned in November 1888 which makes it fairly likely that the visit took place in 1888 (unless Tylor was unaware of the accession, which was possible). It is not clear who donated it, it is known to have been purchased in Edinburgh for £8, but the person who purchased it is not named, it might have been either Tylor or Balfour or an anonymous donor. It was presumably purchased specifically to fill the gap that Tylor identified in his talk.

Press cutting transcribed by AP for the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project August 2011 from the S&SWM PR papers

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