Society of Antiquaries of London Catalogue of Drawings and Museum Objects

Society of Antiquaries of London, 2005

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Society of Antiquaries of London (2005) Society of Antiquaries of London Catalogue of Drawings and Museum Objects [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]


Drawing of Anglo-Saxon grave group from Wiltshire

In its early years, the Society of Antiquaries of London (founded in 1707), acted as a centre for gathering information on archaeological discoveries and historical objects in private hands. Many items were drawn for its meetings and publications in the 18th and 19th centuries. As a result, its library holds the most important national collection of historic drawings of portable antiquities found in Britain. The Society commissioned draughtsmen who were especially noted for their skills in accurate recording.

A database of over 5000 drawings and museum objects from the Society's collections has been created. The database includes images of over 3000 of these items. The drawings digitised and made available on this website have been taken mainly from albums compiled in rough subject divisions in the 1840s. Some of them are of objects first shown to members of the Society and now in national museums. Other outstanding items are now missing, such as the ring presented by Mary Queen of Scots, and the unique Anglo-Saxon silver hanging bowl from the River Witham.

The catalogue also includes over 600 objects from the Society's museum collection. A wide variety of objects are represented, including everything from prehistoric weapons and tools, to Medieval pottery, to eighteenth-century portraits. Highlights include a large bronze shield from Scotland, wood blocks and book-binding tools used by William Morris, and a clock made by Jacob Zech in Prague in the sixteenth century.

It is hoped to expand the catalogue further in the future.

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