PRM ms collections PRM papers Box 1 83

Letter from Augustus Pitt-Rivers to Henry Balfour, this letter appears to be a typed carbon copy [it appears to be purple ink, though it could have just faded over time]. It is known that towards the end of his life Pitt-Rivers did employ a typewriter in his correspondence. It is signed by hand in ink though.

Rushmore, Salisbury. | November 28th, 1890.

Dear Mr. Balfour,

In reply to your letter of the 20th inst., asking if I have any objects to your publishing the series of evolution of ornamental patterns contained in the collection, I of course object to anything whatever being published about the Museum or any part of it by any of the officers charged with the arrangement of it, until I have had the opportunity of describing the collection and explaining to the University its principles of collection, arrangement and history.[1] It is one thing to originate a Museum of that kind and a very different thing to extend and develop it upon the lines already laid down. You have been 6 years in charge of it or assisting Professor Moseley, during which time you have had ample opportunity of adding to the series, and I do not doubt have availed yourself of the opportunity, as I should have wished you to do, with all the advantages of a University connection that the Museum has had; but during that time I have not had access to it, and it is necessary I should speak upon the original series before you do anything. Your paper on my series of composite bows, as at first submitted to the Anthropological Institute, was not at all flattering to the original collection or to me, and I have to guard against a recurrence of anything of the kind. When I have done, I shall be glad that you should publish anything relating to the Museum that may be consistent with your position as the Curator of it. When it was removed from Bethnal Green to Kensington it took 3 months to do it, and I consider 6 years an unreasonable time for it to have been kept in the background at Oxford, making all due allowance for the different circumstances of the case.

I am much obliged to you for your very kind invitation. If I go anywhere at Oxford, I shall be most happy to accept it, but I am rather an invalid in some ways, and always prefer putting up at an Hotel if possible.

Yours very truly,
A Pitt-Rivers

See here for an unsent reply to this letter from Balfour.


[1] Pitt-Rivers was awaiting a date to be arranged, once 'the arrangement' had been completed, for him to give a formal lecture at Oxford. This finally took place on 30 April 1891. There was never a formal opening of the Collection, perhaps because it was at this time still nominally part of the Oxford University Museum, and this lecture formed the only 'opening ceremony' that seems to have occurred. See here for a paper from the Journal of Museum Ethnography on this topic by Petch, 2007.

Transcribed by AP, March 2011, for the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project.

prm logo