Bodleian Library University Archives 3

Notes on a correspondence relating to setting up arrangements at Oxford for the reception of the Pitt-Rivers founding collection 1885-1886, University Archives, Bodleian Library UC/FF/60/2/2 and UC/FF/60/2/3. Tylor is Edward Burnett Tylor, Gamlen is William Blagden Gamlen (University Secretary), Sage built cases for the new museum, Symm were the builders of the new extension and Moseley was Henry Nottidge Moseley, the responsible Curator of the new museum:


19 March 1885: Tylor to Gamlen, forwarded case estimate from F. Sage and Co, £25 per court case including delivery and set up in University Museum (£8 or more below Holland and Sons), EB Tylor has seen their work at the College of Surgeons Museum and has been over their factory, and approves of all. Shall try and arrange a joint examination with Moseley too

24 March 1885: Symm and Co (contractors) contract with University signed

25 March 1885: Secretary, Science and Art Dept, South Kensington, to Gamlen, Dept would be glad to learn that steps are being taken as requested to remove PRC before end next May

15 May 1885: F. Sage to Gamlen, Glad to begin delivering cases on 1st June

18 May 1885: Moseley to Gamlen, ‘I think you had better arrange with the S. Kensington people in the first instance about the removal but you must refer them to Tylor and me for instructions as to the order in which things are to be moved and the superintendence of the job. Some have to come here others to go to the Clarendon building and the packing must be arranged accordingly. You will I suppose let the builders know that the opening into this building will have to be ready by June 1st for the cases and also an ascent of some kind to the hole outside.’

23 May 1885: Moseley to Gamlen, ‘The Authorities of the Science and Art Department have presented to the University a series of wall screens made especially for the Pitt Rivers Collection and to which a considerable portion of the collection still remains attached.'

'It will be most convenient that the screens should be brought here and stored till they can be erected in the new building, with the exhibits attached to them. As they are of large size it will be impossible to get them in to the rooms at present available without cutting them into short lengths a matter of expense and not without risk of damage to the specimens. It will therefore be of great advantage if some University building the approaches of which will allow the entrance of the screens in tact can be devoted to their storage for six or eight months from the beginning of next month. And I beg that you will bring the matter before the Curators of the University Chest'.

‘The extreme size of the screens is 9ft by 12ft. Most of them are 9ft by 9ft 3.’

30 May 1885: Duncombe, Secretary, Science and Art Dept, South Kensington, to Gamlen, can be ready to pack Pitt Rivers collection at a day’s notice of the date when Moseley and Tylor can be present

12 June 1885: Moseley to Gamlen ‘It is very possible we may want to begin to store some Pitt Rivers things in the Clarendon upper rooms tomorrow. Will you kindly tell the Curators and see if they can be swept out etc.' ‘I am off to town with Tylor to superintend.’

17 June 1885: Tylor to Gamlen, written while at the Athenaeum, EB Tylor is ‘in town about the Pitt-Rivers collection’, writing about the stairs (as Moseley, below, 22 June 1885)

22 June 1885: Moseley to Gamlen, has just heard that the staircase down into the Court has been reduced from 6 ft wide to 4 ft 2 in without referring to him or to Tylor. ‘I cannot conceive how a serviceable building is ever turned out of the University on a system of this kind. We have devised the building and are responsible for its efficience [sic] for the purpose of taking the collection for which it is intended and yet a most important alteration is permitted without a hint to us who are the people who will suffer by the error.

‘The six foot doorway half blocked by a wall of brick only three feet distant from it in a direct line will look absurd and hideous. The four feet two stairway will not allow the carrying down of a single one of the 28 cases now erected in the old building…The front door of the Old Museum was so ludicrously bungled through oversight that it is inconvenient and useless and now we are day by day with our eyes open making a worse bungle of the entrance of the new building.’

Sage says the cases will have to be taken to pieces again to get them down the stairs now. The door is six foot and the stairs 4 ft 2, therefore part of the door is blocked by an internal wall coming to meet the corner of the stairs.

‘How will Pitt Rivers like to see his inscription over such an abortion? Tylor is going to the Vice-Chancellor about the matter.’ …

‘I do trust that if it is proposed to abolish the galleries or omit the skylights or build up hermetically all approaches to the building we shall be afforded an opportunity of expressing our disapprobation first.’

June/July 1885: Deane to Gamlen re alterations to staircase

July 1885: F. Sage and Co. to Gamlen re specs and estimate for cases [N.B. Sage and Co., Shop Fitters, Gray’s Inn Road, London]

29 June 1885: Sage and Co. acknowledging receipt of £700

3 July 1885: Moseley to Gamlen ‘I enclose a statement of expenses of Spencer and myself in attending the removal of the Pitt Rivers Collection. I have paid Spencer the £6.9.8.’ Also enquires re railings for PR building gallery and who contractor is and whether it is in hand. Needs complete drawing so a to decide on desk cases and whether to fit them to the railings

17 July 1885: Moseley to Gamlen, re exhibition cases ‘After consulting with the British Museum authorities concerned with Ethnological collections I concluded that 23 feet is not too long for the wall case compartments.’ [Does this mean the space between case doors? Surely not?] The cases are ‘nearly the kind of case which he [Sage] makes great quantities for shops’ [sic]

25 July 1885: Moseley to Gamlen, re cases for the PRM:, Moseley asked for a plan of the building, giving dimensions, when he ‘set about devising a system on which cases should be made for the Pitt Rivers Building’ and never doubted the plan’s correctness. On the basis of this plan ‘the Keeper and I recommended the order of the 28 transparent cases to fill the available floor space with proper intervals’. Now an extra 6 feet 1 inch added to the building, but this will make little difference.

For wall cases: ‘In selecting the kind of wall cases to be recommended I first got an estimate at per foot run by subsequently thinking it better to get an offer to make the entire set of wall cases required for a lump sum including a certain modification of breadth for 23 feet in the middle of the east wall…’ etc.

Original plans suggested by Redgrave and adopted by the University Chest Curators. Moseley guaranteed the plans as correct in his letter to Messrs Sage (the case-makers). Sage offered 240 ft of wall case for £600. Seems they now need 6 ft extra of wall cases, which will cost £2.10 per foot (ie £13 10s in all), but peculiarities of requirement (e.g. for going round door to PRM etc) means will probably be more than this.

Requests up to date plan so can confirm design of cases, case doors and partitions

Also need 12 additional feet of desk cases

Breadth of building now 76 ft not 70 ft

Needs to confirm situation before Sage begins work. ‘I have given a very great deal of my time to the Pitt Rivers matter’ and has been trying to save expense.

27 July 1885: Secretary, Science and Art Dept, South Ken to Gamlen, invoice for ‘expenses incurred by the Department in connection with the removal of the Pitt-Rivers Collection to Oxford’

12 October 1885: Moseley to Gamlen, 'It is necessary that I should have the help of a skilled assistant for a year to aid me in arranging and labelling the Pitt Rivers Collection. I think I shall be able to obtain such aid as I require for a payment of £100. I propose merely to make the engagement for the job without any suggestion of future employment and I shall be much obliged if you will apply for me to the curators of the University Chest for permission to [unclear – enfeud?] £100 of the sum allotted to the purposes of the collection in the payment of such an assistant.’

Also needs a carpenter ‘for some six months or a year to fit and fix wall screens, shelves, brackets +c and do useful jobs of all kinds’

3 November 1885: Deane to Gamlen, have written to Symm and Co. and the glazing contractors to push on with the work. ‘We are sorry you think the work is progressing slowly but at the same time beg to say that we are in no way the cause of it.’

December 1885: letters from Deane to Gamlen re. pillars, hot water channels, doorway, heating

21 December 1885: Tylor to Gamlen, re doorway, building doorway centrally between buttresses would minimize irregularily, would mean altering steps but would make doorway right in the Museum Court and not harm much in PRM, where already lack of symmetry between buttresses and iron columns. Not an architect, but thinks present arrangement will look ill.

1 January 1886: Tylor to Gamlen, ‘It is correct that I was with Deane about the new doorway and that Moseley acquiesced…It is I suppose useless to say any more about the doorway but I wish you would go round that way and see how it strikes you.’


4 February 1886: F. Sage to Moseley, ‘We have been thinking that as we have had so much wet weather lately the walls of your new building will be very damp for a long time after it is completed, therefore would it not be wise to paint the boards for the back of the cases two stiff coats [sic] of red lead before they are fixed we mean that side next the wall [sic], the cost of doing this will be £10.16.0. If you give the order for this to be done we should do the painting before the work leaves here. Perhaps you will be able to tell us more when the building will be covered in so that we may form an idea when we can begin to fix the cases.’

[Moseley’s order for painting backs of cases received by 8 February]

4 February 1886 Deane to Gamlen re revised estimate for hot-water

February/March 1886: Haden and Son re estimates for heating apparatus, Deane and Son re estimates for heating apparatus, plans for heating

8 February 1886: Moseley to Gamlen, complaining that the £500 set aside for ‘removal and rearranging of the Pitt Rivers collection’ has been drawn upon for other purposes. Original estimate drawn up by Moseley and Tylor, and neither expected this:

‘We counted as most people do when making an estimate on savings on one item compensating for loss on another and in giving three weeks of our time up to the work of superintending packing and preliminary labelling of the collection we were I am sure much actuated by the consideration that we thereby saved must cost which saving would enable a larger proportion of the collection to be placed under glass should the sum granted run short. I also spared my assistants services here in connection with the museum collection with the same view.'

‘I have agreed as is most expedient to receive nearly the whole of the Ashmolean’s ethnological specimens and incorporate them with the Pitt Rivers collection without asking for any increase in the sum for cases +c mainly on the idea that the savings effected would be available for the Pitt Rivers collection and I have also heard from General Pitt Rivers of numerous [insert] valuable sets of [end insert] objects at his house in London shortly to be added to those already received without raising questions of further expense on similar grounds.'

‘I have spent very much time and trouble and correspondence in obtaining everything connected with my part of the work of the collection [insert] at as low a cost as possible [end insert] on purpose to make the money go as far as possible in displaying and preserving the collection suitably and I shall certainly feel disappointed if the result is to be expended on the warming apparatus of another part of the Museum and I find the funds for extra cases +c run short in the end.’

…Hopes original fun for arranging the collection will remain. ‘Nothing is more difficult that to make absolute calculations as to the disposal of a collection of indefinite dimensions which ahs never been arranged as a whole previously anywhere.’

9 February 1886: Moseley to Gamlen, ‘I should have mentioned in my letter that the whole expense of moving the Pitt Rivers collection cannot be regarded as yet defrayed. The cost of moving all the specimens now stowed at the Divinity School and the new Schools to the Museum will be quite considerable. The estimate made by Dr. Tylor and myself was calculated before it was known that two removals would be required.’

15 February 1886: Moseley to Gamlen, ‘I am constantly interrupted during my lectures here on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays by violent hammering in connection with the Pitt Rivers building. At first I was able by leaving my class and finding a servant to take a message to the foreman of the works to resume my lecture in quiet after an interval but now I am unable to get the noise stopped.’

'Can the Curators of the Chest do anything to stop the noise on these days between 10 and 11.30 while Moseley is teaching. ‘If the builders had finished the work according to agreement there would have been no need for hammering during lectures. I have of course no authority at all with the builders.’

17 March 1886: Tylor to Gamlen, might be sensible to have a plank going along roof so that ventilation shutters and roof can be accessed if anything goes wrong, without the need of scaffolding

22 March 1886: Moseley to Gamlen, going on holiday until 3 May, so could Gamlen make arrangements to pay Balfour from the ‘Pitt Rivers fund’ on March 25th ‘one quarters salary, viz £25’ and ‘£20 to be expended during my absence on wages and small purchases under one pound and accounted for my me on my return’

Undated pencil note by Moseley: ‘I prefer in the painting of the interior of the Pitt Rivers building the dark red bases of the pillars with yellow narrow rings about. Also the rails coloured light grey with yellow ring ornaments.

‘If the joints under the galleries and their ends if painted should be coloured nearly white.

‘Borrow scaffold man from Mr Axtell and pulley and rope for handing the screens up to the Galleries’

[NB I think Axtell must have been a technician or maintenance for the University or the OUM]

3 April 1886: Deane to Gamlen re Symm and Co. painting underside of gallery floors, order for this work sent 14 April. Later April, Haden and Son re deciding on circle design for gratings. Late April/May, discussion re blind wells and drainage

6 May 1886: Moseley to Gamlen, ‘Sage’s men are very anxious to begin putting up the wall cases in the Pitt Rivers building. They suggest that the floor round the margin where the cases are to rest might now be finished off at once. I see nothing to prevent this being done. They have been left waiting a long while with the cases filling their warehouses. I dare say Axtell could easily manage the matter.’

8 May 1886: W.J. Hill, Science Collections, S. Kensington, to Moseley ‘In turning out drawers and cup-boards in the office, I have come across some Pitt Rivers labels. I rather think they are copies of many you have but will send them if they are likely to be of any service.' ‘I suppose by this time the Pitt Rivers annexe is built and pretty well furnished…’

14 May 1886: Sage acknowledge order for ’26 additional standards and 8 wrought iron braces’

20 May 1886: Gardner, Anderson and Clarke, Engineers to Gamlen, sending photo of ‘the Anthropological Museum as finished’ – later note (by different hand) states that this is a photo of the finished roof, but no photo remains

2 June 1886: Sage to Gamlen, asking for £500 – had intended to wait until after work finished, but building has been some months longer than anticipated. Their work should be completed by end of month, ‘All the material are on the ground and we believe well advanced’

11 June 1886: Moseley to Gamlen, re inscription over the door. ‘I think the enclosed will look very well but I had an idea that the stipulated inscription was Pitt Rivers Anthropological Collection I know he is very sweet on the long word…’

‘I want leave to ask one of the S. Kensington authorities to allow one of their superintendents who had carge of the Pitt Rivers Collection to come here for a week to give his services in cataloguing the collection. We to pay his expenses [sic]. Such favours are often granted in the case of collections sent to new provinces +c. The man had charge of all the old catalogues of the Museum and has a wide knowledge of the collections and would bring the old catalogues and identify many things the labels of which were mislaid when the collection was shifted in a hurry owing to the University leaving it at Kensington too long. It was determined to ask for this Mr Hill’s services when the things were packed for moving to Oxford. He was then of the greatest use. It is possible the SK people might send him at their own expense.’

19 June 1886: Secretary, Science and Art Dept, S. Kensington, to Gamlen, confirming that Mr Hill’s services will be placed at the disposal of the University authorities on condition they pay travel and personal expenses

22 June 1886: Sage re ventilating wall cases at extra cost

23 June 1886: Moseley to Gamlen, Mr Hill to come week of 18 July (ie on Monday 19), he (Moseley) and Balfour will be here: ‘I want Balfour to find him a lodging +c and write to him when the time comes.’

30 June 1886: Balfour to Gamlen (Balfour’s address is Longlands, Henley-on-Thames), has taken rooms for Hill at Museum Cottage

30 June 1886: Moseley to Gamlen, re petty cash for the Pitt Rivers. ‘Fred Long is a small boy brother of the workman Long who does varnishing +c on his holiday. We shall probably require carpenters assistance in the vac [sic] now the building is finished + the expenditure will thus be a bit higher.’

5 July 1886: Sage sending an account for cases, now completed

10 July 1886: Moseley to Gamlen, has tried all locks on cases and is satisfied, has checked Sage’s invoice

19 July 1886: Deane and Son, need drainage pipe for boiler

24 July 1886: Moseley re blackening grates in PRM

August and October 1886: University Chest settling accounts with contractors

23 October 1886: handwritten ‘Estimate for further expenditure in arranging etc the Pitt Rivers Museum’ includes fittings for cases, screens, more table cases for Upper Gallery, ‘special small cases’, labels painted on wood, salary for assistant to Moseley for one year from Oct 28 at £150 [this is Balfour, up from £100 for first year of work], salary of ‘servants paid weekly from petty cash’ at £39. Total £725.10.0 Total petty cash expenditure for 27 Feb to 23 Oct 1886 was £60

Another estimate, written by Moseley at about the same time: Includes more table cases for upper gallery, fitting screens in upper gallery, wall cases and screens in lower gallery, stands and fittings for cases, special small glass cases, large labels finished in oil colours. Long’s salary for 53 weeks at 15s = £39. Balfour began work on Oct 28 1885 and was paid: £17.10.8 on December 31; and £25 on each of 29 March, 30 June and 23 October

1 November 1886: Moseley to Gamlen, re estimates for following year (see above) ‘I include amongst such specimens those which with the sanction of the University have been transferred from the Ashmolean to the Pitt Rivers collection in exchange for objects formerly in the General Museum, a certain number of objects transferred directly from the General Museum to the Pitt Rivers collection, and a very few objects presented by various donors to the Pitt Rivers collection since it arrived at Oxford. The whole of these additions to the collection as presented by General Pitt Rivers to the University form a very small proportion of the whole. That portion of the objects received from the Ashmolean Museum which is known as ‘Captain Cook’s collection’ has been arranged in a case formerly used for ethnological objects in the General Museum not in a new one purchased for the purpose. I do not think that the objects now in hand can be properly cleaned, preserved, repaired, set up and displayed in cases or on screens without an expenditure such as I propose. No doubt there will remain some small spaces in the cases +c in which future additions may be intercalated but no superfluous accommodation has been definitely allowed for in my estimate. The range of new table cases in the Upper Gallery which I wish to have put up will be entirely occupied by the vast collection of stone and bronze implements ancient and modern still in the new Schools.’

11 November 1886: Sage to Moseley, estimate for 253ft 6in table cases. Desk cases ordered by 13 November 1886 for the ‘upper gallery of the Anatomical Museum’ (must be a mistake due to Moseley’s writing paper)

Transcribed by Frances Larson for the Relational Museum project, January 2006.

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