S&SWM PR papers P series letters etc

See here for P1-P5 transcribed by Charlotte Diffey



Col A Lane Fox first described a British tumulus opened by him upon Whitmoor Common near Guildford on the 16th and 17th May 1877 with permission of the landowner Lord Onslow. It was situated on the south-east side of the common near the railway bridge, and a cart road from the village of Worplesdon passed over the lower portion of the tumulus.  The Tumulus was of low elevation, being not more than 2ft in height above the surface and about 37 feet in diameter. Trenches were dug simultaneously from the north and the south, and of sufficient width to embrace the whole mound. 

The natural soil was defined by hard clay distinguishing it from the natural of the mound, which was of a sandy nature.  No grave was found beneath this level, and it was evident that the actual interment whether burnt or not must have been placed on the surface of the ground and then [illegible] and [illegible] over it, but no trace of it remained.  Near the centre lower in the body of the mound, 3 British Urns were found at a distance of 3 to 4 feet from each other, each containing burnt bones. The urns had all been put in with the mouth down, and the tops on so that the proper bottoms of the urns were so near the surface that that they were all more or less broken by the traffic over the mound, and by which it had no doubt been considerably reduced from it original height.

The largest urn was in the centre. It was 1 foot 5 inches in height and 4 feet in circumference, somewhat of a barrel shape, and ornamental with a raised band all round at about 6 inches from the rim.  The other two were smaller, being 10 inches in height and 8 inches in diameter. One of these was ornamental with 5 raised bosses a few inches below the rim. The natural of all three was of an extremely coarse kind, badly baked, and interspersed with minute fragments of some pieces of white shell.  One of the small ones was got out mostly perfect but the others broke into fragments, and can with difficulty be repaired. Sketches of them however were taken whilst they were in situ showing their exact position before they were taken out. 

It is evident that this was a British Barrow of the Bronze Age. Probably the urns contained secondary interments but it is just possible from the fact of the large urn having been in the centre that it may have been the original interment for which the barrow was erected. 

The floor was dug throughout the cutting for some distance in search of an actual grave but none was found.  The section across the centre showed first a layer of one foot of blackish peat, then one foot of yellow sand, & below that the clayey floor.

It is here notable that all the fragments of broken flint were found here and there which did not belong to the soil. No trace of a flake or bulb of percussion was found on any of them.  This shows that the practice of throwing flakes onto the mound, though very usual in interments of this age, was not universal. Slightly different customs no doubt prevailed in different localities, and this is more reasonable than to suppose that this tumulus belonged to an age when this custom had died out; because there is good reason to believe from excavations of the Roman age lately made at both Seaford and Hardham in Sussex that the practice of putting flakes with the grave continued amongst the Romanised Britons.

Close to this, on the same Common, Col. Fox opened another tumulus much smaller, not any more than 18 feet in diameter, and one foot three inches in height.  No central grave was found beneath this but a layer of black soil probably the result of fire was discovered further beneath the surface, and in the centre a small hole was clearly seen in the smooth sandy section not more than 2 feet from the tumulus and about the same diameter. 

There, no doubt, a burnt body had been deposited but no trace of the bones remained.  The sand of this district, admitting the rainwater freely, is very unfavourable with preservation of bone especially so close to the surface.  Here above the line of black mould numerous fragments of charcoal were discovered and an immense quantity of burnt but no trace of a flake or implement of any kind. 

Col. Fox then described six tumuli which he opened on Merrow Down, 3 miles to the south of the former locality, accurate sections of which were exhibited. Four of them were in a cluster on the top of the hill just south of Level’s Dean. They were so small that they had never been noticed as tumuli, and Col. Fox was himself in doubt when he commenced whether they would turn out to be graves.  The first was 24 feet in diameter & one foot three in height. The section clearly shows the process that had taken place: a hole 2 foot in diameter had been dug in the green sward about 15 inches deep, at the bottom of it beneath the surface mould which is 10 inches thick, and extended 5 inches into the chalk beneath.

Then the body – which had been burnt elsewhere, for no trace of charcoal or burning was found here – had been brought and deposited in the hole with earth, the numerous fragments of a burnt body being found just about the top of the hole. Then the tumulus was raised over the interment.  This was the norm but the practice differed even in the same cluster of tumuli.  The second was 33 feet to the west of the first. It was 11 feet in diameter and only 8 inches [in] greatest height – in fact scarcely perceptible, but a green spot of grass in the centre showed that there was something unusual in the soil beneath. In fact, immediately the turf was removed burnt earth for a space of four feet in diameter was found beneath, and a burnt body one foot beneath the top.  There was no trace of a hole here, but the burnt bones were an inch or two beneath the natural surface. If the hole did not extend into the chalk it would not be perceived in the section.  This body must either have been burnt on the spot or the burnt earth must have been brought with the body and interred with it.  There was no object in culture of these two graves to denote the age of the burials or the people by whom they were made.

The third tumulus of the cluster was the most important of the cluster because it determined the date of the whole. It was 50 feet to the NW of the last, 13 feet in diameter, and one foot [in] greatest height.  It had a green spot of grass in the centre.  Like the last, immediately on removing the turf, black earth was found as before in a circle of 4 feet diameter. A small flint core and a flint chip lay under the turf, but this may have been accidental.  In the black earth was a quantity of charcoal which had not been found in the other tumuli. Two or three pieces of burnt bone – the remains of a body that had decayed – were found in this black mould, and on the same level (5 inches from the top, and 2 feet to the west of the centre) an iron Saxon knife 6 inches long – including the tang of 1½ inch, and ¾ inch [in] greatest breadth. This iron knife is of the well known Saxon type, not altogether unlike a pen knife in form, & having near the back the groove, which is so well known in connection with Saxon weapons. It determines the whole cluster to be of the pagan Saxon period, before their conversion to Christianity when they ceased to burn their dead, and began to bury extended in the usual Christian fashion.  It was evident that this body was burnt on the spot as beneath the black earth and charcoal was found a seam of red burnt earth where the fire had been. 

Three other tumuli were opened close by. They were of the same form but nothing was found in them.  It is evident however from their unusually small size & the similarity of the contents of those which had any, that the iron knife determines the age of the whole group.  It is not often that in connection with tumuli we are able to answer the question so often put to us determine their date in years.  Here however we can’t be far wrong in saying that the interments were made between the years 500 & 600 Anno Domini, that is landing of Hengest in 477 and the conversions of Augustine in 597.  Probably the first and only important change of habits which accompanied these events was their alteration in the mode of burial. There is good reason for supposing that cremation was actively abandoned at this time.

Transcribed by Judith White and edited by Dan Hicks


P110 [Draft of introduction to catalogue of the founding collection at Bethnal Green, 1877]

[... In the] Christy Collection the primary arrangement is Geographical, whereas I have from the first collected and arranged by form. The result has been that different points of interest have been brought to light. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages, by a geographical arrangement the general culture of each distinct race is made the prominent feature of the collection, and it is therefore more strictly ethnological, whereas in the arrangement which I have adopted the development of specific ideas, and their transmission from one people to another, is made more apparent, and it is therefore of greater sociological interest.

Acting upon the principle of reasoning from the known to the unknown I have commenced this catalogue with the specimens of the arts of existing savages, and have employed them as far as possible to illustrate the relics of primeval illegible man, none of which, except those constructed of the illegible more imperishable materials, [insert] such as [end insert] flut flint and stone, were have survived to our time. All the implements of primeval man that were of decomposable materials having disappeared and can be replaced only in imagination by studying those of [insert] his [end insert] nearest congener the modern savage.

To what extent the modern savage actually represents primeval men [insert] man [end insert] is one of those problems which anthropology is called upon to solve. That he does not truly represent him in all particulars we may be certain. Analogy would lead us to believe that he presents us with a traditional portrait of him rather than a photograph. The resemblance between [insert] the arts of modern savages and those of primeval man [end insert] may be compared to that existing between recent and extinct species of animals. As we find amongst existing species of animals and plants species akin to what geology teaches [insert] us [end insert] were primitive species, and as among existing species we find the representatives of successive stages of geological species, so amongst the arts of existing savages we find forms which, being adapted to a low condition of culture, have survived from the earliest times, and also the representatives of many successive stages through which development has taken place in times past. As amongst existing animals and plants we are able to bring these survivals from different ages give us an outline picture of a succession of gradually improving species, but do not represent the true sequence by which improvement has been effected, so amongst the arts of existing people in all stages of civilisation we are able to trace [insert] a succession of ideas [end insert] illegible from illegible [insert] the [end insert] simple to the complex illegible , but not the true order of development by which those more complex arrangements have been brought about. As amongst existing species of animals innumerable links are wanting to complete the illegible [insert] continuity [end insert] of structure, so amongst [insert] the arts of [end insert] existing peoples there are great gaps which can only be filled by pre-historic arts. What the palaeontologist does for zoology, the pre-historian does for anthropology. What the study of zoology does towards explaining the structures of extinct species, the study of existing savages does towards enabling us to realise the condition of primeval man.

This analogy holds good in the main, though there are points of difference which greatly complicate the human problem, and which cannot be entered into in this brief summary of the subject.

The importance of studying the material arts of savages and pre-historic men is evident, when it is considered that they afford us the most reliable evidence [insert] by which to trace their history and affinities [end insert]. It has been said that language is the surest test of race. This is true of an advanced state of culture, in which language has attained persistency, and still more so where it has been illegible [insert] committed [end insert] to writing; but it is certainly not true of the lowest savages, amongst whom language changes so rapidly that even neighbouring tribes are unable to understand one another; and if this is the case in respect to language, still more strongly does it apply to all ideas that are communicated by word of mouth. [insert] In endeavouring to trace back the history of the arts to their root forms we find that [end insert] in proportion as the value of language and of the ideas conveyed by language diminishes, that of ideas embodied in material forms increases in stability and permanence. Whilst in the earliest phases of humanity the illegible [insert] names [end insert] for things change with every generation, if not illegible[insert] more [end insert] frequently, the things themselves are handed down illegible [insert] unchanged [end insert] from father to son and from tribe to tribe, and illegible words [insert] many [end insert] of them have continued to our own time illegible words faithful records of the conditions of the people by whom they were fabricated.

Before concluding this preface I cannot do better than refer the reader to the difficulties illegible words [insert] recently [end insert] published work of Mr. Herbert Spencer on the study of sociology, and for most particularly [insert] more [end insert] [insert] particularly [end insert] to that portion of it which relates to the difficulties of social science illegible [insert] arising [end insert] from the automorphic [insert] automorphic [end insert] interpretation of the works of people in a very different stages [insert] state [end insert] of culture to our own. To this cause must be attributed chiefly the difficulty which we experience in realising the very slow stages by means of which progress has been effected in times past.



... South Kensington Museum, London, S.W. | 27th day of May 1874

E.L.M. No 4061 / 74

Bethnal Green Branch Museum


I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 22nd instant, addressed to Mr Johnson, stating that you have sold to Colonel Fox some of the objects belonging to you which are exhibited in the Bethnal Green Branch Museum.

In reply I am to inform you that it is contrary to the regulations of the South Kensington Museum that objects should be sold during the time for which they have been received on loan, and that the Authorities are therefore unable to recognize the sale to which you refer.

I am to add that at the expiration of the period (six months) for which the specimens were lent, you will be at liberty to withdraw them from the Bethnal Green Museum, and to transfer them to Colonel Fox.

I am,
Your obedient servant,
Norman MacLeod

T.J. Hutchinson Esq | 98 Talbot Road | Bayswater, W.



5th June 1874 Purchase of objects from Mr Hutchinson in Bethnal Green Museum

Anthropological Institute | Great Britain & Ireland | 4 St Martin's Place W.C. | May 27th 1874

My Dear Colonel Fox

I saw Mr Johnson this morning who told me abut the difficulty of which you wrote in your note just received. I think Mr Johnson must be likely to obviate it, by not having these things enrolled. In fact none of my collection is yet registered in their books, so that must not be likely to come under the ban - the fact of my having disposed of them to you I explained to Mr Johnson I would not have done the latter but that they were to remain in the Museum. Hoping you will have no difficulty in the transfer

Believe me
Yours ... [illegible]
Thos Hutchinson



... South Kensington Museum, London, S.W. | 5th day of June 1874

E.L.M. No 4323 / 74

Bethnal Green Branch Museum


I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 29th ultimo, addressed to Mr Thompson, with reference to the purchase of certain specimens which are exhibited by Mr T.J. Hutchinson at the Bethnal Green Branch Museum.

In reply, I am to inform you that under the circumstances stated in your letter, the regulation prohibiting the sale of objects during the period for which they are lent to the South Kensington Museum or its Branch at Bethnal Green, will be exceptionally relaxed, and the specimens which you have purchased may at once be transferred to your collection.

I am,
Your obedient servant,
Norman MacLeod

Colonel Lane Fox | Guildford

This is 1884.57.21 and on



... South Kensington Museum, London, S.W. | 4th day of September 1874

E.L.M. No 6689 / 74

Bethnal Green Branch Museum


I am directed to inform you, with regret, that the five small darts attached to the Bengal Blow-pipe, No. 1009 in your collection of Anthropological specimens at the Bethnal Green Branch Museum, were taken away on Saturday evening last, it is supposed by a visitor.

The darts were, as you may perhaps remember, fastened by wire to the Blow-pipe. It has, however, become evident that the wire does not afford sufficient protection, and arrangements have therefore been made to place under glass, with as little delay as possible , the few small objects that are now not thus protected.

I am,
Your obedient Servant
G.F. Duncombe

Colonel Lane Fox | &c &c | Guildford

The blowpipe is 1884.18.1, there were still 5 blowdarts remaining which are now in the PRM Oxford see 1884.18.2



... South Kensington Museum, London, S.W. | 16th day of February 1875

No 5


The Lords of the Committee of Council on Education direct me to transmit the enclosed copy of a minute [insert] Form No 47 SKM [end insert] which they have passed in reference to the formation of a loan Exhibition of scientific apparatus to be opened in the South Kensington Museum during the months of June, July and August.

Their Lordships desire me to enquire whether it would be agreeable to you to act on this Committee and to afford them the benefit of your advice and assistance in the formation of the collection of scientific apparatus.

The Sub-Committee on the Biological Division of the Loan Exhibition will meet in the Board Room at South Kensington Museum on Tuesday the 23rd instant at 4 p.ml. when your attendance is requested.

I have the honour to be
Your obedient servant
Norman MacLeod

Colonel Lane Fox | Anthropological Institute | St Martin's Place | Trafalgar Square



... South Kensington Museum, London, S.W. | 9th day of January 1878



With reference to the proposed loan of your Collection of specimens now at St Martin's Lane, for exhibition in the Bethnal Green Branch Museum, I am directed to state that if you will be so good as to furnish this Department with an Order for the removal of the specimens to Bethnal Green, they shall be sent for, and cases shall be provided for their exhibition.

I am,
Your obedient servant,
Norman MacLeod

Colonel Lane Fox | The Uplands | Guildford



Dec 31. 1878

Dear Gen'l Fox

Your Collection was opened for public inspection on Thursday last at South Kensington, and looks well in its new home.

Enclosed is the Stores receipt for all the objects received since you left

No statuettes have been received from Mesr [sic] Feuardent

Very truly yours
Richard Thompson



... South Kensington Museum, London, S.W. | 8th day of August 1879

Machy No 4043 / 79

South Kensington Museum


I am directed to transmit for your information the enclosed copy of a letter which has been received at this Office from Messrs Ransomes, Sims, & Head, stating that a model may be made of the plough exhibited by them in the South Kensington Museum.

I am,
Your obedient servant,
A.J.R. Trundell

Major General Lane Fox | 19 Penywern Road | S.W.


Ipswich | August 1879

Messrs Ransomes Sims & Head present their compliments to Major General Lane Fox and they have much pleasure in giving their permission for a model to be made of their Egyptian and Java plough, now in the South Kensington Museum, for exhibition in the Anthropological collection

Science and Art Department | South Kensington | London A.E.R



... South Kensington Museum, London, S.W. | 15th day of September 1879

A.M. No 4549 / 79

South Kensington Museum


I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 12th intant, [insert] addressed to Mr Thompson [end insert] and, in reply, to inform you that the Stores Division of this Department has been instructed to receive the objects which you mention as coming from Copenhagen, to be added to your Collection at the South Kensington Museum

I am,
Your obedient Servant
G.F. Duncombe

Major-General A. Lane Fox | 19 Penywern Road | Earl's Court | S.W.

These objects presumably are 1884.50.8, 1885=4.53.26, 1884.76.119, 1884.127.94.



... South Kensington Museum, London, S.W. | 15th day of September 1879

A.M. No 4049 / 79

South Kensington Museum


With reference to your letter of the 4th ultimo addressed to Mr Thompson, the delay in answering which has arisen from the knowledge of the fact that you have been absent from England, I am directed to express regret that there should be any uncertainty regarding the reception at the South Kensington Museum of the Enamels to which you refer.

A copy of the report of the officer who superintended the unpacking of the box in question is transmitted herewith for your information, and I am to observe that the Department has no reason to doubt the accuracy of this report as no case is known in which articles received packed in a box have been omitted from the Stores List prepared at the time of unpacking.

Mr Johnson, the only person here who has seen the Enamels, suggests that you brought them with you showed them to him, and took them away again; and for the purpose of ascertaining this, the Department will be obliged if you will kindly make a search at home for the missing specimens

Instructions have been given for mounting, according to your request, the photographs mentioned in your letter of the 9th instant.

The Stores have also been instructed to receive the box coming from Goleborg [sic]

I am,
Your obedient Servant
G.F. Duncombe

Major-General A. Lane Fox | 19 Penywern Road | Earl's Court

Copy of Officer's Report


I beg to state for your information that I was in charge fo unpacking the Collection belonging to General Lane Fox, on the 5th May 1879.

I made a list of the objects and had them placed in baskets as each piece was unpacked and taken to Mr Hills office. As usual the packers went over the packing the second time for fear of any object having been missed.

I can state positively that no Enamels were in this collection.

(signed) John Clark


W.G. Groser Esq


P125 [handwritten] and P135, P136a [2 printed versions] all identical

19 Penywern Road, S.W. | April 14th 1880

Dear Mr Thompson

Having already explained to you privately the circumstances which have led to this communication I now proceed by your suggestion to put the subject of our conversation into writing with a view to action upon it.

I propose, if I live, to extend much more rapidly than hitherto the Ethnological Collection now exhibited at the South Kensington to which as you know I have devoted much attention during the last twenty five years and I am anxious to know whether in view of such extension the Museum Authorities will undertake the housing [insert] and exhibition [end insert] of it or whether it will be necessary for me to seek accommodation [insert] for it [end insert] elsewhere.

The collection now occupies the rooms "L" and "K" West Galleries [insert] Exhibition Buildings [end insert] on the ground floor and it is intimated that there are 14,000 objects in it, but the space is insufficient to exhibit even the present collection properly and the arrangement on which the value of the series [insert] mainly depends [end insert] cannot be fully carried out by [insert] with [end insert] the present arrangement [insert] accommodation [end insert] I shall want nearly double the space at once and if my intentions are fulfilled more room with be required ultimately.

It may be usefull [sic] that I may [insert] should [end insert] state briefly the plan on which the objects have been brought together in order that it may be understood why a collection of this kind should exist side by side with other Ethnological or Colonial exhibitions. My collection differs from others in this that the arrangement is psychological rather than geographical, that is to say, objects from different countries appertaining to like arts or phases of the human mind have been classed together, the intention being to shew how far one nation has borrowed from another and for [insert] or [end insert] on the other hand to what extent the phases of art have arisen spontaneously in different Countries and to trace the development of each branch. I do not affirm that the [insert] all [end insert] Museums should be arranged upon this plan but having been in constant communication with men of science on the subject, anthropologists and others, I find that the utility of this arrangement is recognized as a means of shewing connections which could not be brought to light otherwise. Dr Meyer writes to me that he is arranging the Dresden Museum upon the same plan which he has adopted after examining my collection at South Kensington and amongst those who have spoken on the subject I may mention Professors Huxley and Rolleston to whose opinion I attach much value.

If the Museum Authorities decide to give me the space I require with any prospect of permanence there is one point to which I would invite attention viz that the arrangements for superintendence which are satisfactory in the case of other collections which having been once handed over to the Museum remain constantly in the same cases, without change or addition are not satisfactory in the case of my collection to which additions are being made daily, and which must be subject to constant arrangement as the things accumulate. The objects are collected with a view of demonstrating certain principles of evolution and it is quite necessary that the superintendent should understand what those principles are and enter into the spirit of the arrangement. Either it will be necessary to have an officer in the position of a Curator who has special qualifications for the post or the person superintending must be a subordinate officer of intelligence whose time is devoted exclusively to the Collection and who will act under my guidance, I shall be most happy to provide and pay the Superintendent myself, if that arrangement meets the views of the authorities, but I think I need not dilate upon a point so obvious further than to say that to carry out [insert] the extension of [end insert] my Museum in the manner proposed [insert] with [end insert] the system of superintendence which has been in vogue hitherto would be impracticable.

If it should be decided not to entertain the proposal which I now make with respect to the collection generally, I hope that sufficient time may be given me either to make other arrangements or to build a Museum of my own.

I may add that my intention is if I am able to increase the Museum in such a way as to make it worthy of the purpose for which it has been commenced, either to leave it to the nation or to some other Nation or to some Institution which would [insert] will [end insert] carry it on.

Believe me
yours truly
A Lane Fox
Major General

R. Thompson Esq | Assistant Director | South Kensington Museum



Memorandum about General Pitt-Rivers Museum at South Kensington

This is an Ethnographical Museum now and for sometime past exhibited in the long rooms to the west of the Horticultural Garden belonging to the Commissioners of 1851.

It contains about 14,000 objects. The arrangement is psychological and gives the history and development of various arts such as Pottery, Weapons, Shipbuilding, Agricultural implements, Ornamentation &c. its utility has been recognized by men of Science.

General Rivers is anxious to increase it largely on the same plan and wants more space.

He would like Lord Granville to convince himself of the utility of the Museum with a view to its continuance in any arrangement come to between the Commission of 1851 and the Government.



... South Kensington Museum, London, S.W. | 25th day of May 1880

A.M. No 2195/80

South Kensington Museum


I am directed by the Lords of the Committee of Council on Education to transmit for your information the enclosed copy of a letter from General Lane Fox, now General Pitt Rivers, as to the proposed development of his Ethnological Collection at present exhibited in the Western Exhibition Galleries at South Kensington; and I am to request that you will have the goodness to inform me whether it will be agreeable to you to act with the gentlemen whose names are given on the opposite page, as a Committee to report on the Collection and on the advantage to Science and Art which may be expected to accrue from the proposal made by General Pitt Rivers.

I am,
Your obedient servant,
Norman MacLeod

Sir John Lubbock, Bart., F.R.S.

Mr J. Fergusson

Professor Huxley, F.R.S.

Mr E.J. Poynter, R.A.

Sir P. Cunliffe Owen, K.C.M.G., C.B., I.J.E. and

Colonel Donnelly, R.E.

Professor Rolleston | &c &c | Pembroke College | Oxford

Note that Pitt-Rivers also attended the meetings of the committee as P129 makes clear (where he receives letters about arrangements for the meeting, and postponements).



Science and Art Department of the Committee of Council on Education

South Kensington Museum

22nd day of June 1880

Forwarded from the Museum, Science and Art Department, London S.W.

102 Copies - Pamphlet on the arrangement of Anthropological Collection at Bethnal Green Museum

W.G. Groser

Major Gen. Pitt-Rivers F.R.S. | 19 Pen-y-wern Road | S.W.



Forwarded from the Museum, Science and Art Dept,

1 levelling rod,
12 volumes of books and 32 plates
64 maps
1 carved wooden box
1 Russian enamelled scabbard containing short sword
11 books (7 volumes and 4 pamphlets)
2 articles of female dress

as lent on 24th ultimo

W.G. Groser

Major Gen'l Pitt-Rivers F.R.S. |29 Pen-y-wern Road | Earl's Court | S.W.

On back says 2.10.1880 Objects returned from lot from Clermont Ferrand



... South Kensington Museum, London, S.W. | 14th day of December 1881

E.M. No 5133 / 81

South Kensington Museum


The Lords of the Committee of Council on Education learn that some additions have been sent in by you to your Anthropological Collection in the Western Galleries since the termination of the Correspondence between you and their Lordships as to the transfer of the Collection.

You are aware that the tenure by their Lordships of these galleries is very uncertain, and that they are liable to be called on to give them up and to remove all their contents at short notice. They have no desire to press for the removal of your Collection until the decision as to their tenure of the Galleries make it necessary; but they do not feel it desirable under existing circumstances that any further additions should be made to it, and they will not be able to provide cases or other fittings for the reception of any such additions.

They would suggest that the attention of the Curator (who they learn from your letter of August 31 has been appointed by you) should be directed to the necessary preparation for facilitating the ready removal of the collection which may have to be carried out in great haste.

I am,
Your obedient Servant
G.F. Duncombe

General Pitt Rivers, F.R.S. | 4 Grosvenor Gardens, | S.W.



... South Kensington Museum, London, S.W. | 30th day of May 1883

E.M. No 3203


I beg to enclose a copy of a letter dated the 24th instant received from Messrs Farrer & Co: and of the reply which has been addressed to those gentlemen.

I am to add that every effort will be made to prepare from the Store Lists &c an Inventory of your Collection sufficient for Messrs Farrer & Co:'s purpose

I am,
Your obedient Servant
G.F. Duncombe

General Pitt Rivers, F.R.S. | 4 Grosvenor Gardens, | S.W.

Copy 3023

66 Lincoln's Inn Fields | London W.C. | 24th May 1883

Dear Sir,

You are aware that General Pitt-Rivers has arranged to present the the greater portion of his Anthropological Collection to the University of Oxford.

For the purposes of the Deed of Gift we wish to have an Inventory of the Collection and we understand that you have one at South Kensington. Would you kindly lend us this inventory or a copy of it for a day or two.

We are acting for General Pitt-Rivers.

We are, Dear Sir,

Yours truly

(signed) Farrer & Co.

The Secretary | Science & Art Department | South Kensington Museum, | S.W.

... South Kensington Museum, London, S.W. | 30th day of May 1883

E.M. No 3203


I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 24th instant, a copy of which has been sent to General Pitt-Rivers, and I am to state that instructions have been given for the preparation of an Inventory of the Collection for your use.

I am,
Your obedient Servant
(signed) G.F. Duncombe

Messrs Farrer & Co. | 66 Lincoln's Inn Field's | London W.C.



Answered 30 Jan. 86 The objects to be sent to 4 Grosvenor Gardens

... South Kensington Museum, London, S.W. | 22 day of January 1886

E.M. No 399/86


I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 17 instant and in reply to inform you that the printed book and a box of minerals have been returned to 4 Grosvenor Gardens in accordance with your request.

I am to enquire whether it is your wish that the residue of your Collection which the Oxford authorities left behind shall also be returned to you at the same address.

I am,
Your obedient Servant
G.F. Duncombe

Major General | A.H. Pitt Rivers | Rushmore | Salisbury

Science and Art Department of the Committee of Council on Education South Kensington

5th day of February 1886

Forwarded from the Science and Art Department, South Kensington, London, S.W.

4 packing cases containing human or other bones, flint implements, fragments of pottery, chalk, plaster casts of brain and spear heads, plaster medallions etc etc
1 packing case containing Chinese fireworks various *
1 packing case containing fragments of red sandstone conglomerate, and stone bored by ....
1 packing case containing 21 cocoa nut shells and 9 stuffed birds (moth eaten)
1 large piece of matting
1 folding box used for personal ornaments of savage races
1 plaster cast Human head
3 plaster casts human heads
1 fragment of plaster cast human head
1 map of world (torn)
2 boxes iron bound
1 case containing 2 preparations for skeletons of monkeys
1 tail of sting ray*
1 straw dress
1 specimen of coarse bark rope
2 sticks for weaving
1 bag woven from sennit
2 fur hats canework frames
1 tent or chair cover, yellow work with fringe
1 straw petticoat
1 straw cloak [Japanese]
1 box with lock
1 black leather trunk studded with nails
1 box containing 2 large pieces of chalk
½ pod of monkey nut
1 gun case containing bullet mould, key for nipple and turnscrew and ramrod
1 straw or wicker basket containing fragments of shell and pottery
1 small case covered with bookbinders cloth
1 leather portmanteau containing hammer, screwdriver and 2 sets of pulleys
1 pair top boots (much torn)
1 plaster cast of head (broken)
1 plaster cast mask (broken)
3 empty cases and 2 hampers

Returned loans

H. Lloyd Storekeeper

* NB Items marked like this can be matched to items in PRM possibles database held by the PRM, Oxford August 2011.




Having been asked by the committee to define the terms on which I make the offer of my Museum to the nation I now do so [illegible] that as my object is to extend and develop the collection in a particular plan it is necessary I should to that object that I should make my gift subject to certain condition.

1. I will present the collection [insert] by deed of gift [end insert] to be [illegible] as it now [illegible] [insert] by deed of gift [end insert] subject to the following conditions

2. I am to leave the management of it during my life once long [sic] is placed in so far as regards the arrangement of the thing in the cases or the screens in the rooms the ticketing and the [illegible] catalogue of the arts such facilities deemed by them to be the necessity to such management

3 that should there be one or two things in it that I consider usefless for the purposes of the collection shall be withdrawn previous to the signing of the deed of Gift

the following to operate during my life time

4 I am to have the management of the collection during my life or as long as I please in so far as regards the arrangement of the things in the cases or the screens or in the rooms the ticketting [insert] and [end insert] the catalogue with such facilities of access to the things as may be necessary for such management

5. Government shall ultimately provide [insert] at once additional [illegible] for the present collection and ultimately space for [end insert] space for the present collection and the additions that I may make to it with cases for preserving and exhibiting the things [insert] same [end insert] to the extent of the [illegible] lengths of the gallery in which the illegible now exhibited [insert] the present collection is contained [end insert] or the one above it or provide an equal amount of accommodation for it elsewhere

6. that the objects things which I think add to the collection after signing the deed of gift shall become the property of the government subject to the above & other conditions [insert] herein contained [end insert] 6 months after they have been entered on the Stores lists, [words illegible] counted on loan & space shall be provided for this with the pieces exhibiting there temporarily.

7. That room space and case [illegible] shall be provided by the Government for the objects aded to the colln after the signing of the deed of gift within a reasonable term that is to say within 6 months after they have been written in the stores lists providing the space [insert] accommodation [end insert] thus allotted to the collection [insert] whole collection [end insert] should not exceed the amount mention in clause 5.

8 That if the government should fail to provide accommodation for the objects in the manner detailed in clause 5 & 7 the entire collection shall revert to me and I shall have the power of dispersing of it as I may think fit

10 [sic] [insert] 10 stet [end insert] that no object shall be lent temporarily from the collection without my consent

11 that the objects added permanently to the collection in the manner detailed in clause 6 should be subject to the approval of the Lord President of the council or such person as he may appoint providing that [illegible] to this clause shall be made to accommodate the conditions of clauses 5 & 7

12 that the Government shall provide lighting [illegible] & police supervision

13 that the Government shall provide the necessary repairs of objects that may be broken

14 I am willing to provide & pay a curator illegible should the present arrangement of it but [words illegible] I should wish this an officer [rest illegible

14 I am willing to provide & pay a curator as long as I have the management of the collection should the government approve this should this not be approved should with this an officer having an official knowledge of the subject should appointed [words illegible] to the collection and [words illegible] subject to the conditions contained in clause 4

I wish to add that I am very anxious that a decision on this subject should be arrived at as soon as possible as many [insert] many [end insert] private arrangements are dependent on it


P136a and P136d [2 identical versions]

Science and Art Department | South Kensington | 3rd June 1881 | E.M. 2911/ 81


I am directed by the Lords of the Committee of Council on Education to acquaint you that their Lordships have had under consideration the report of the Committee appointed to advise them in reference to the liberal proposal you have made with regard to your Ethnological Collection now being exhibited in the galleries belonging to the Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 on the Western side of the Horticultural Gardens.

The report in question proves the value and interesting nature of the Collection and recommends that it should become the property of the Nation.

Their Lordships whilst accepting the conclusions at which the Committee have arrived, are however, compelled for the following reasons to decide that it is not possible for them to accept the Collection for permanent exhibition in connection with the Department for Science and Art.

In the first place the space which the Collection at present occupies has to be relinquished by the Department and there is no other space now at Their Lordships disposal, or likely to be provided elsewhere, in which the Collection could be placed.

It is however chiefly on other grounds than want of space that My Lords have felt it incumbent on them to decline the custody of the Collection. Ethnology is not now represented in the collections of the South Kensington Museum and it is undesirable to commence a collection with special reference to this branch of Science while there is in another National Establishment, the British Museum, a large collection of a similar kind.

It has been represented to Their Lordships that your Collection is arranged on a different system to that adopted at the British Museum and that as shewing the development of [insert] form and [end insert] shape it would constitute an appropriate part of a museum like that at South Kensington, which is intimately connected with Education in General and Industrial Art. Admitting to some extent the force of this argument it, nevertheless, appears to My Lords that your Collection if the Trustees of the British Museum should be willing and able to accept it, would not in any way interfere with that already contained in that Museum, but on the contrary, would increase the interest of the Ethnological specimens which it now possesses.

My Lords feel strongly the inexpediency of national museums competing against each other, and wish that so far as possible, a distinct line should be drawn between the collections at South Kensington and those at the British Museum. Each should be made as perfect as possible, but should occupy different ground.

My Lords must add a few words as to the question of expense, although you have liberally proposed to keep up the Collection mainly at your own charge during your life-time, the whole cost of its maintenance would eventually devolve on the Department which accepts your offer. This might lead to heavy expenditure for a Curator, attendants, further purchases, cases &c, and the Collection would require an amount of space not only large in itself, but out of proportion to that which they can ever hope to be able to set aside for other Branches of Science of more immediate practical and educational use. The expenditure would be exceptionally large at the South Kensington Museum, where there is at present no one connected with Ethnological Science on the Establishment; and after you had relinquished the management, it would be necessary to secure the services of a gentleman, with special qualifications for [insert] the care of [end insert] this valuable Collection.

My Lords throughly appreciate the liberality and public spirit which have prompted you to make the offer, whilst they regret that they are unable to take advantage of it on behalf of the Department of Science and Art.

I am,
Your obedient servant,
(signed) F.R. Sandford

General Pitt-Rivers | &c &c



This is a printed set of papers headed 'Return to an Order of the Honourable The House of Commons dated 27 June 1881. No. 1 is the letter from Pitt-Rivers to Thompson, No 2 [the report] is given below and No. 3 is the letter from Sandford to Pitt-Rivers

No. 2.

Report of the Committee appointed by the Lords of the Committee of Council on Education on the offer made by General Pitt Rivers with regard to his Collection

1. At the first meeting of the Committee a letter addressed by General Pitt Rivers to Mr Thompson ... was considered ... and as it appeared that the intentions and wishes .... were not so fully expressed and defined ... as seemed desirable he was requested to furnish the Chairman with a complete written statement of his views.

2. The following letter ... was laid before the second meeting of the Committee:-

19 Penywern-road, South Kensington | 21 July 1880


Having been asked by the Committee ... to define the terms on which I make the offer of my Museum to the nation, I now do so premising that, as my object is to extend and develope [sic] the collection on a particular plan, it is necessary that I should make my gift subject to certain conditions.

I will present the collection to the nation as it now stands, by deed of gift, subject to the following conditions, viz:

1st. That as the objects in this collection hang together as a whole, they shall never be dispersed or sold.

The following to operate during my lifetime.

2nd That should there be specimens which I consider useless for the purposes of the collection, they shall be withdrawn previous to the signing of the deed of Gift

3rd That I should have the management of the collection during my life or as long as I please, in so far as regards the arrangement of the specimens in the cases, on the screens and in the rooms, the disposal of duplicates, and the ticketting and the cataloguing; and to have such facilities of access as may be necessary.

4th. That the Government shall provide, at once, additional space for the present collection and ultimately space for the additions that I may make to it, with cases for preserving and exhibiting the same, to the extent of the entire length of the gallery in part of which the present collection is contained, or the one above it; or provide an equal amount of accommodation for it elsewhere

5th. That the specimens which I shall add to the collection, after signing the deed of gift, shall become the property of the Government subject to the above & other conditions herein contained, six months after they have been entered in the stores lists, until which time they shall be considered on loan & space shall be provided for this with the means of exhibiting them temporarily.

6th. That room space and case accommodation shall be provided by the Government for the objects added to the collection after the signing of the deed of gift within a reasonable time, that is to say within 6 months after they have been entered in the stores lists providing the accommodation thus allotted to the whole collection shall not exceed the amount mentioned in clause 4.

7th. That if the government should fail to provide accommodation for the objects in the manner detailed in clause 4 & 6 the entire collection shall revert to me and I shall have the power of disposing of it as I may think fit

8th That after the space detailed in clause 4 has been filled up, I shall be permitted to add drawers and trays at my own expense for the purposes of containing further additions and perfecting the part of the collection which is exhibited in cases

9th That no object shall be lent temporarily from the collection without my consent.

10th The Government to provide lighting, attendance & police supervision

11th The Government to provide for the repair of objects that may be broken

12th I am willing to provide and pay a curator as long as I have the management of the collection, should the government approve. But should this not be approved, I should wish that an officer having an special knowledge of the subject should appointed, whose duties should be confined to the collection and who will act subject to the conditions contained in clause 3

I wish to add that I am very anxious that a decision on this subject should be arrived at as soon as possible as many private arrangements are dependent on it.

I have &c (signed) A. Pitt Rivers ....

[NB a draft of this is given as P134, transcribed here]

3. The Committee is unanimously of opinion that the collections offered to the Government ... is of great value and interest.

4. [explanation, using Pitt-Rivers 1874 catalogue as basis] of the aim of Pitt-Rivers collection]

5. That the collection therefore differs from ordinary ethnological collections in principle, and does not reduplicate or come into competition with them

6. The Committee recommends the acceptance of the collection by the Government, leaving General Pitt-Rivers full pwoers to add or substitute specimens, or dispose of duplicates, and arrange the whole according to his own views.

7. The Committee suggests, however, that the development of the collection shall be strictly limited to the efficient illustration of the principle upon which it has been formed; and they think that some reduction in the number of specimens already existing in the collection, may be effected without injury to its scientific completeness.

8. The Committee is of opinion that twice as much space as is at present occupied will be sufficient for the adequate illustration of General Pitt Rivers' idea. The collection and arrangement of the specimens will be a work of time.

9. The Committee considers that if General Pitt Rivers' collection be accepted by the Government, it should be with the reservation that if at any time the Government should cease ... to retain the collection as a whole, it should in the first instance be offered to other public bodies in England, and if not accepted under the conditions of this letter, should be offered to the representatives of General Pitt Rivers, and if not accepted by them, that the Government should be at liberty to dispose of it in any way it may think fit. ...

[There is a note at the end saying that Rolleston disagreed with the suggestion that the development should be limited in para 7]



Ansd. Oct. 1/91

Nash Mills, | Hemel Hempstead | Sept 29 1891

My dear Pitt Rivers

I think that your bronze arrow-points with the [drawing of a ogee section] section are from Motya in Sicity - Perhaps they date from B.C. 396. when the town was stoned by the Carthaginians The bronze sword (Lindenschmidt) is said to have been found at PELLA in Macedonia - See Bastian and Voss "Die Bronze schwerten der K. Museums in Berlin (1878) Plate XII NO 4 - XIII No 1. I cannot find any reference to your stone axe with runes

I am thanking Mrs Pitt Rivers for an enjoyable visit

Yours very truly
John Evans

There is no reference to a Macedonian sword from Pella in the catalogue of the second collection though there are objects from Lindenschmit, nor can the arrowheads be identified.




Rom.-Germ. Centralmuseum | MAINZ | Mayence 23 juillet 87


Veuillez bien excusez le retard de la principale pièce de votre envoi, savoir de la casque, dont la reconstructive a été retarder pour unchangement dans notre atelier. Nous vous avons déja demandé le 29 avril a. o. sous l'addresse: Rushmore, Tisbury Station, (Wiltshire) comme vous nous l'aviez noté, si nous devions nous vous l'envoyer, mais nous n'avons pas encore reçu de répouse jusqu'a'a présent, c'est pourquoi nous essayons de vous demander aujourdhui sous l'ancienne addresse, 4 Grosvenor Gardens, London, où nous devons adresser notre envoi qui est tout  à fait prêt à expèdier.

Aussi nous restons en attente de votre répouse

Agréez, Monsieur, l'assurance de notre plus haute considération, avec laquelle nous avons l'honneur de signer

Votre bien dévoué

L Lindenschmit

Transcribed by AP for the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project August 2011

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