S&SWM PR papers L760


NB It is clear from the context and the catalogue of the second collection that this letter must date from 22.10.1891, however when the S&SWM PR papers were arranged this was not known so it was placed with the undated items

Ansd Objects purchased

Bentcliffe Eccles | October 22nd

My dear General

When I was at Rushmore you will remember I had a note from a man at Zurich offering some pewter plates. You said you would like them if I sent for them. They have arrived and are I think very good and as fresh as if made yesterday. You will see one of them has a portrait of Gustavus Adolphus & the heroes of the 30 years war & they are all different. I am sending them on by rail.

Another case of things has been sent me from Cologne which I think very cheap & which are in your way if you care to have them. If not you will send them back

This contains 2 Roman [insert] gold [end insert] rings [insert] cut with cameos from [end insert] Sinzig on the Rhine. They are good specimens & there is a notion that there was a manufactory there in Roman times

2 Roman pots from Cologne interesting because they are very like similar ones made in Britain one is a pretty shape & is just like a nother one in the British Museum. They represent very well the provincial vases of the Roman & show how close England the Rhine were to each other in Roman times. [sic]

3 A curious wooden disc with a man & woman on one side and a musical party on the other probably early 17th century & used for stamping cakes

4 2 pots which I think curious one is of the form which was used in Cologne in early times and  has impressed patterns. They are very seldom perfect. The other is of Frecken ware with oak leaves in relief You will see how the foot of each ring is exactly the same

5 A reliquary in silver gilt a good specimen of this kind of thing of the 17th century. They are seldom [illegible] and this is quite genuine.

The pewter plates from Meyer are 16-0-0

The other things from Cologne 12-0-0




I hope they will arrive safely, give my best regards to Mrs Pitt Rivers. Yours very truly

Henry H. Howorth

These are Add.9455vol3_p757 /1 and on



[Ans'd July 9 [sic], 1891]

Bentcliffe Eccles | Manchester | Nov '2 / 91

My dear General

Many thanks for your note and for the cheque which arrived quite safely. I have not heard about fresh trouble with the Guards at first hand but I feel sure that things are not as they should be. It is due I am told to the fact that the majority of the non-commissioned officers are so young and inexperienced. They have introduced an accommodation which I think suitable namely that a battalion of the Guards is in future to be always stationed in the Mediterranean.

A few words now about the curios. I was a little afraid you might think the pewter plates dear As I did not know how far you had studied them. As a matter of fact [word illegible] you have got which represent almost every style are remarkable & I feel sure Franks would have jumped at them. Next time you go to the Museum you must look at what they have got. You will see one in time I gave them some time ago. You will see others at [illegible] in the Museum and also at Nuremberg. They are mostly stamped with makers names and were made either in Switzerland or South Germany. They were made in imitation I believe of Briots [2 words illegible] and it is curious how closely allied [illegible] of the designs are to those on the Flanders pots. They have friezes of electors with the [illegible] in the middle etc etc. I believe Cripps told me he had made a collection of the marks on them. 1 or 3 of yours must have been very carefully put aside in linen as they are wonderfully fresh. It is curious that in England & apparently in France whence pewter was so much used they should not have made plates with the raised designs. The English & French specimens I have seen are decorated with incised coats of arms chiefly. You must not hold me responsible for their price as I shewed you the note from the dealer and you asked me to send for them & [3 words illegible] I think they are very cheap.

The other things I bought for myself & when I unpacked them I thought they were much more valuable to your collection The two Roman pots from the Rhine * I thought very characteristic & they are interesting to us because they are so very like in [illegible] to the posts made by the Romans in Hampshire & the Marshes. Cologne and Nevers were the real capitals of Rome north of the Alps and it was to the Rhine rather than to Italy that Roman Britain was attached.

I want you also to notice the 2 Roman rings ** I was told at Cologne that there is evidence to shew there was a manufacture of these rings on the Rhine in Roman times. They are found chiefly at Sinzig I believe & I thought the 2 specimens I got were exceptionally good ones. You must not keep these things out of consideration to me I will gladly have them if you dont want them but I thought they filled up 2 or 3 gaps in your collection & I thought also I secured them at a reasonable price.

I now want to mention something else. I have had offered to me a rather remarkable & interesting collection of things & I am going to buy some of them for myself. They are a class of objects which I fancy greatly namely things made fro the Great Japanese d.... [illegible] who as you know are all ruined & are selling off. The choicest Japanese work I have seen is that which was devoted to the ornaments etc used by these old nobles of Japan & in a very short time they will all have disappeared. The things I am referring to are 2 saddles made of wood and covered with beautiful old [illegible] birds etc. and some of their fine stirrups which you have seen no doubt, great box stirrups entirely covered with lovely diapers and all different.*** Some have [illegible] on them others a kind of niello others are inlaid with mother of pearl etc

I dont care to keep pairs of stirrups for they are big things and one of a kind is enough for me. I am going to receive a saddle and more of the stirrups. Would you like any of these things. I could think there  are two saddles of which you could have one and 3 pairs of stirrups of which I should like to keep a specimen of each. The saddle & 3 stirrups would come I think to about £20.0.0 I only mention this because I thought you might like to have an opportunity of securing them. You can see a saddle of a similar kind & 3 or 3 stirrups in the British Museum. Perhaps you will let me know

I was dining with Franks on Friday He was talking much about you and saying he thought as we all think you are a most remarkable person in knowledge and enthusiasm. Franks is [illegible] that you should become President of the Antiquaries. I think you are under some misapprehension as to his having objected to your things remaining in London. He spoke to me in very different terms & I think I know him better than anybody. You would I know have been pleased to hear the very complimentary terms w. which you were spoken of.

Pray give my very kind regards to your kind and most hospitable wife I shall not readily forget my very happy visit to you & I hope if you can make any use of me you will do so & that you will let me come & see you again

Yours most truly
Henry H. Howorth

Add.9455vol3_p757 /3-4

** Add.9455vol3_p757 /1-2

*** Add.9455vol3_p836 /1-5



Bentcliffe Eccles | Nov 14th 91

My dear General

Many thanks for your note. There can really be no doubt that the real name of the Roman embossed pots with red varnish is aretine where they were made where the debris still occur and whence potters emigrated to Cologne & Treves where they imitated them. I am not sure that three antiquaries who [illegible] class the highly finished pieces found in Britain as Malean [?] are right. I have a notion that they could make just as good pots glass etc on the Rhine as anywhere I dont know what signs to discriminate the Italian pots by. There was also a large manufactory of the same ware at Clermont Ferrand. I have bought both pots & moulds there and also duffers all found in the place. and pots with similar names of potters have occurred in Britain. It may be that the finer ones are from Clermont & not from the Rhine. The name Samian is assuredly a misnomer. Pots were made at Samos 200 years before Christ of which there

A... [illegible] ones were possibly imitations, at least P[illegible] thinks so.

The [illegible] I told you about is a Japanese called Kataska & his address is 32 George Street Hanover Square. He has a good deal of knowledge but in my opinion is very dear

There is a man called Lasham in Bond Street who has some fine things & is a very decent fellow

The stirrups & saddle I had sent to your address If you dont care for them I will have them sent for as I have another friend who is collecting. I have got a set myself and think them very interesting I hope you are very flourishing

Yours very sincerely
Harry H. Howorth


L2528 *

Bentcliffe Eccles | Nov 24th

My dear General

Many thanks for your interesting letter. Since I wrote you before I have spent an evening at Franks' as he wanted to show me a famous Gold Cup about which he will no doubt speak to you.

We also had a talk about Samian Ware, on which subject I do not agree with either Franks or Reade. I do not think there is the slightest evidence that ware in the least resembling what he calls Samian, was ever made at Samos, & I think the name has arisen from a misunderstanding in a passage of Pliny - Now we do know that ware of a similar [insert] though [end insert] but not of the same [illegible] was made at [illegible] Fragments, moulds & I believe duffers have been found at Arezzo. The ware is red, is moulded, & although lighter, is generically the same as the pieces which came from Clermont & of which I got several specimens there & I have no doubt myself, that the potters of Clermont were a colony from Arezzo or from Ciret [illegible] just as the Rhine potters were a colony from Clermont. If you are to have a generic name I think the best is the name of the place to which we can ultimately trace the manufacture. I dont object to calling all porcelain china or to calling English faience English delft, but I do object to calling all shells cockles & mussels, & giving the name Samian to ware that has absolutely nothing to do with Samos & I don't follow Franks' illustration about majolica, which was so called because the original pieces came from Majorca/ The saddles & stirrups which I spoke to you about were in a warehouse in the City, and when I got your letter, I told them to divide the collection in two one half of it being for myself, the other half I told them to put into a box, carefully packed & to leave them at your home. I thought they were all godo & beautiful specimens of work, & I am sure they all belonged to Daimios I told them to book them all to me You must not worry there is no smallest obligation for you to take them unless they quite suit you as I believe Hilton Price is anxious for some & would have them & if not these people quite understand they are to take them back again.

With our very kind regards to you all

Yours very truly
Henry H. Howorth

* This item has been placed by S&SWM PR papers ms collection at the end amongst the undated letters but it is clearly 24.11.1891



Bentcliffe Eccles | January 2nd

My dear General

I am sending you a small French book on Japanese art which is a favourite of mine and which was perhaps the best reference I had. I think it will interest you. Whatever the origin of the Japanese and I know of no more difficult problem to solve it seems to me that their artistic sense and their sense of humour makes them very near akin to us Western Europeans I remember travelling for 6 weeks once with a Japanese gentleman (a two sworded man) in Sweden & Denmark & being struck by his wonderful likeness to us in his way of looking at everything.

They are assuredly also the most wonderful artists as far as invention and finish goes and there is a perpetual lesson to be learnt from them.

I hope you liked the stirrups & the saddle. They all belong to Daimuos * & to the days that are gone & are very unlike anything made now [insert] dating from times [end insert] when each grandee employed his own dependents to work for him and time was a matter of no consequence. I have a [insert] small [end insert] collection of daggers & swords dating from the same time which you must see when we come to London, and I love to handle them they are so perfect in their technical qualities.

The things which I had sent to you were really one [insert] each [end insert] out of several pairs of which I have the others and I thought [insert] them [end insert] very cheap. They had been in a warehouse in the city for a long time and the man had no way of disposing of them. The saddle & 4 stirrups are £22-0-0 I hope you have been having better weather at Rushmore and that you will let me come again to see you then where I spent such a very pleasant time. I am going at the end of January to see Tyssen Amherst ** at Didlington. Have you seen his fine Museum. He has some very good things but he does not collect as you do to illustrate great scientific facts. Give our very best regards to Mrs Pitt Rivers we shall be in town at the beginning of February at number 27 Henford [?[ Square South Gloucester Road

With very good wish [sic] for the coming year
I remain
Yours very truly
Harry H. Howorth

*Possibly meaning Daimyo, territorial lords

** William Amhurst Tyssen-Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst of Hackney 1835-1909, art and book collector and Conservative MP

Note that there is another letter from Howorth asking for an invitation to stay the weekend, to see L1679, partially transcribed here.



Howorth | Ansd Dec 3/96

30 Collingham Place | Cromwell Road. S.W. | Nov 23th [sic]

My dear General

I was delighted to get your letter and will take care to see Clark as soon as possible about the New Zealand illegible [sic, see below, possibly Front]. I mentioned it to Franks and he said the notion was first rate that it was impossible to exhibit in London without destroying it and that it is too valuable to be allowed to perish in this way and he said he would do everything he could to help you to secure it. I had a very pleasant time at your house and shall always be pleased to come again We are just going off to call on your son.

With our kind regards to your Wife

Yours very truly
Henry H Howorth

This illegible object that might be front [ie Maori house carving] does not appear to have been obtained by Pitt-Rivers or at least it is not listed in the second collection catalogue



Howorth | Ansd Apr. 2/97

April 1st | 30 Collingham Place | Cromwell Road. S.W.

My dear General

I have just found a letter of yours which reminds me that I ought to have written to you long ago but I am too busy for words. I went to see Purdon Clarke and other people at South Kensington about the New Zealand [illegible, but possibly 'front'] and spoke to them several times. They were very sympathetic and Purdon Clarke wished you to write a letter officially to him making the request that you might have the [illegible possibly 'front'] on a perpetual loan as I am afraid they might have some difficulty in an actual gift. It is exactly suited to your place while in London it is sure to be destroyed by the smoke [?possibly it is illegible] &c.

I think I told ou we called on your son the grenadier but they were out of town and had let their house - Can you let me know what his present address is? I hope very much you are keeping better.

With our kind regards to you all
Yours very truly
Henry H. Howorth

Caspar Purdon Clarke (1846-1911) Director of the South Kensington Museum.

It is by no means clear that the illegible word is 'front' but it seems clear from other evidence that it probably is. It presumably refers to a house carving or Maori house, and 'your place' would presumably be either Farnham Museum or (more likely) Larmer Tree Gardens where Pitt-Rivers already had several reconstructed dwellings scattered in the grounds. There is a strong possibility that it refers to a carvedMaori meeting house called 'Mataatua', see here. This was carved by the Ngati Awa over two years, as the site referred to says, 'it was intended to cement alliances between these tribes and to heal divisions created during the war with the Government a few years before'. After being exhibited at the Sydney Exhibition in 1879 it was shipped to England and stored in the cellars of South Kensington Museum. The house is now back in New Zealand and in 2010 was being re-erected, see here for more information. In Chris Gosden's 'Anthropology and Archaeology...' [1999] pages 187-188 he gives the history of the meeting house, saying it was first transferred to the South Kensington Museum in 1882 [page 188], 'the house was originally exhibited in the quadrangle of the SKM with the interior carvings turned outwards ... a year later, Mataatua was moved to the grounds of the Museum and four years later was dismantled and stored'. The house was not displayed again until 1924 when it was shown at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley so it seems that Pitt-Rivers did not get to loan it (if indeed that is the object referred to). It seems likely that after it was dismantled it probably was taking up quite a bit of space in the SKM stores so it is possible that people like Franks and Howorth would have worried about the long term implications for it if it was left in storage and sought a permanent solution elsewhere.

See here for a following reply from South Kensington Museum.

My thanks to Jeremy for both trying to read the illegible words in the last letter and identifying Mataatua as a possible match for the object referred to before we saw the later letter from Clarke.

Transcribed by AP May / June 2011 as part of the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project

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