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Friday, 5 April 2013

Collections, Collecting and Gentlemanly Pursuits

Collections and Collecting

Last Tuesday Beverley Rogers came to talk to our research group about William MacGregor. I was struck by the comparison between him and another collector of objects from the Egypt Centre, William Frankland Hood. Both were clergyman, both originally went to Egypt for health reasons (unfortunately poor old Frankland Hood eventually died of tuberculosis), both of course collected and their artefacts were put on public display. Both collections were sold off for money reasons in the 1920s. Interestingly too both sale catalogues of their collections have a forward by Percy Newberry. Of course, one might expect a lot of similarities.  Clergyman were very often antiquarians in Victorian Britain, presumably they had the time and some income, plus it would have been a gentlemanly pursuit showing scholarly interest involving 'scientific' sorting and cataloging. Clergyman, one would assume, would have been interested in the Biblical connections of Egypt too.

But, the Rev. Fitzherbert Fuller who collected our coffin of the lady musician gave away his Egyptian coffin when he became a clergyman.

I know loads has been written on collecting (mainly by Susan Pearce but also others) so I wont go into that here, but I did think it worth drawing attention to the men (and the occasional woman) who so influenced the development of Egyptology through what they collected and how they presented their collections. Their enthusiasms and biases influenced the development of Egyptology. Their work, of course, was soon to be overshadowed by the development of professional archaeology and specialists based in universities.