A significant year?

In 2012 Anthony Pitt-Rivers gave a series of Pitt-Rivers' notebooks to the Pitt Rivers Museum, who were exceptionally grateful for this donation as a small number of the pages of the notebooks had actually been compiled very early in Pitt-Rivers' life, from which we have least surviving information.

One of the notebooks contains a catalogue of arms taken at his then house in Clapham, London. The contents of this catalogue are still being reviewed but it is the first evidence we have of any systematic recording of acquisitions before 1880 so it is very important. In August 1862 he was appointed Assistant Quartermaster General to the British Army stationed in Cork, Ireland (then part of the United Kingdom), which necessitated moving his family to a new home near Cork. There was therefore a resulting need to pack up all his possessions, including his collection, and transport it to Ireland, or storage. On 21st August 1862 Fox decided to compile, or ask others to compile, a catalogue of his weapons in a note-book (lined paper, soft cover).

The catalogue has been collated against the founding collection. It is not possible to match every object listed in the catalogue against the catalogue of the founding collection because some entries are too broad and undefined (for example, ‘210. Short straight sword.’). However it is clear that more than 757 separate objects are listed in the catalogue (counted in the same way as the founding collection, that is a sheath and sword count as 2 objects). The total number cannot be given exactly as there are several entries which just list a group entry as for example ‘No 334 Bundle of long arrows British Guiana’.

The catalogue lists objects by type of weapon, though it is only on the first page that a sub-heading is used, after this the cataloguer moves from category to category without break. Clubs; paddles; spears; axes, adzes and staff weapons; swords, daggers and knives; shields; armour; bows, quivers and arrows; firearms, bayonets and cartridges.

AP April 2012

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