Charles Seligman Beatrice Blackwood PRM Museum John Hutton Henry Balfour Edward Tylor Augustus Fox

Pitt Rivers Museum Europe collections up to 1945 Statistics Summary

Colonial Status

[article ID:37]

Europe is a large continent with a long recorded history but it was infrequently directly affected by colonialisation by the UK.


1878 – the Ottoman Empire places it under British administration

1914 – completely annexed by Britain

1960 – independence

Gibraltar  1704 – becomes a colony; remains British


*1807 – the island is seized from Denmark

1890 – ceded to Germany

Ionian Islands

*1815 – become British Protectorate

1864 – ceded to Greece


*1171 – Henry II begins the rule of Ireland from British mainland

1801 – Act of Union

1921 – all but the 6 counties of Ulster gain independence as Irish Free State

1937 – becomes Eire

1949 – becomes Republic of Ireland


1814 – formally annexed

1947 – self-government

1964 – full independence


1713 – ceded to Britain under Treaty of Utrecht

1802 – ceded to Spain

We shall therefore count as colonies for the purposes of the ESRC project (for the entirety of the period which is being examined ie 1884 - 1945 inclusive):




Ireland we will not include in the colonial statistics. However it is extremely difficult to split a single country by time and we are not sure it was worth the trouble, particularly as so many Irish items are not provenanced as being definitely Northern Ireland or Ireland and would therefore have to be excluded and also a large number of Irish (from whichever part) items are archaeological.

List of countries included in European statistics

[article ID:38]






Bosnia Herzegovina Yugoslavia


Croatia Yugoslavia


Czech Republic















Macedonia Yugoslavia




Montenegro Yugoslavia

The Netherlands





Russia [excluding Siberia which should be in Asia]

San Marino

Serbia Yugoslavia








Vatican City


NB we have excluded Turkey as such as small part of it geographically is in Europe and so much in Asia. We have also excluded Georgia which we will also include in the Asian statistics.

Countries omitted because there are no objects from there: Leichtenstein, Luzembourg, Moldova, San Marina,

NB countries in red were UK colonies. Russia excludes Siberia which is also Asian

Total number of objects from geographical region

[article ID:39]

There are 41,898 objects from Europe in the PRM collections up to 1945, 23 per cent of the overall collections up to that date.

Countries in descending order of number of objects:

UK - 25,596 [excluding Ireland]

France - 4,683

Italy - 2,123

Switzerland - 835

Denmark - 822

Sweden - 650

Germany - 637

Norway - 579

Greece - 554

UK or Ireland - 547

Russia [exclude Siberia] - 475

Belgium - 455

Malta - 435

Austria - 424

Cyprus - 424

Spain - 410

Ireland - 324 [excluding UK]

Portugal - 184

Albania - 179

Finland - 176

Bosnia Herzegovina - 155

The Netherlands - 138

Hungary - 91

Iceland - 79

Ukraine - 78

Montenegro - 61

Croatia - 48

Czech Republic - 32

Poland - 31

Serbia - 24

Romania - 22

Bulgaria - 13

Macedonia - 13

Vatican City - 8

Belarus - 4

Estonia - 4

Latvia - 4

Lithuania - 4

Andorra - 3

Slovakia - 2

Slovenia - 2

Gibraltar - 1

UK is by far the largest collection of objects, France is the next largest but that is twice the size of the third (Italy) and all other European countries have collections under a 1000 objects strong with 21 countries have collections of less than a hundred objects.

That is, the UK forms more than half of the whole European collection up to 1945

That is, fourteen per cent of all objects globally in the Pitt Rivers Museum up to 1945 are from the UK.

In other words, over three-quarters of all European objects in the PRM up to 1945 were from three European countries, France, Italy and most importantly the UK.

For the UK sub-divided into regions:

England - 22,510

Scotland - 847

Northern Ireland - [excluding only possible Northern Ireland objects] - 687

Wales - 606

Unspecified UK - 604

Isle of Man - 81

Channel Islands - 36

Scilly Isles - 22

In other words England on its own formed 13 per cent of the global collection in the PRM up to 1945, more than one in ten objects in the Museum in 1946 were English. Although this is outside the remit of the ESRC project we calculated the same figure for the collections up to date (ie to 2003) and found that the UK collections had grown proportionally - up to 16 per cent of the global collection from 14 per cent although the English collections had slighly decreased proportionally from 13 per cent down to 12.

European collections to 1945 accessioning pattern:

[article ID:40]

The peak in the 1880s is due to the large number of European objects given as part of the founding collection by Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers and presumably also those items transferred from the Ashmolean Museum and the University Museum of Natural History. Many of these objects were of course acquired early than the 1880s. The European peak in the 1880s is not matched in the global figures which peak in the 1930s and in fact the decade pattern for Europe is quite different from the global pattern

Each country's figures have been broken down by decade (see European Stats Part I for information).

Because the UK so dominates the European collections we will look at those statistics in greater detail in this summary:

UK generally

The peak in the 1880s is almost entirely down to the large UK (actually principally English) collection from Pitt Rivers in 1884 - 5855 of the 6632 objects given in this decade are archaeological objects given by Pitt Rivers from the UK. The second peak in the 1920s is due to the Alexander Montgomerie Bell collection given by Archibald Bell (again principally of stone tools).


For reasons for peaks in 1880s and 1920s see above [UK]



The peak in 1930s is due to mostly due to a collection of stone tools from Wales from Eustace Fulcrand Bosanquet

Northern Ireland

The peak in the 1880s is due to the large number of Ireland archaeological items in the founding collection

Channel Islands

The peak in the 1910s is due to Marett and the Societe Jersaise and its and his archaeological activity

Isle of Man

79 objects were acquired in the 1880s from the Isle of Man most from Ernest Bickersteth Savage or from the founding collection, 1 in the 1890s and 1 in the 1910s.

Scilly Islands

Most of the Scilly Islands material came in the 1930s, 1 in the 1940s mostly from Eustace Fulcrand Bosanquet

Possibly Ireland or UK [Northern Ireland]

Most of the objects in the 1880s peak come from the founding collection (which is generally not very well provenanced) and yet again it is also mostly archaeological

European objects divided between archaeology and ethnography

[article ID:41]

From which it can be seen that archaeology is almost two thirds of the European collection up to 1945.

There are proportionally many more archaeological items from the European collections than there are for the collections as a whole up to 1945 (the percentages then were 34 per cent Archaeology and 56 per cent Ethnographic]

This dominance of archaeology items in Europe is principally due to the UK collections being so heavily biased that way, other countries are much more biased towards ethnographic collections but of course, their overall numbers are lower. For a country by country breakdown see European Statistics Part II.

Again we will look at the UK figures in more detail:

Just under a third of the English archaeological objects came from the founding collection.

English archaeological items account for a whacking 61 per cent of all European archaeological items accessioned up to 1945

And 20 per cent of all archaeological items obtained throughout the world by 1946.

and 9 per cent of all the object obtained by the PRM up to end of 1945 (that is, nearly one in every ten objects acquired by 1946 was an English archaeological item). This vast collection has not been much studied or published upon (except for work by Denis Britton) and is possibly too poorly provenanced archaeologically (with very little of the usual archaeological find information) to be of great interest today?

There is a far greater proportion of archaeological items which are not provenanced well than there are specifically provenanced to Ireland

The Isle of Man collections are dominated by ethnographic items. The Scilly collections are dominated by archaeological items

The vast majority of all European archaeological items are from the UK and specifically from England.

Top 12 archaeological collections up to 1945:

England - 16,213

France - 3,644

[Ireland and / or Northern Ireland - 1,270*]

Switzerland - 676

Denmark - 665

Italy - 658

Wales - 487

Malta - 395

Scotland - 362

Greece - 345

Channel Islands - 320

Cyprus - 270

I have included Ireland in the following chart although it is impossible to get a true figure for possible objects from North and South Ireland combined as so many archaeological items are double counted as both (this is as near as I can get and has been calculated by adding those definite just southern Ireland, those definitely Northern Ireland and those which are labelled as both).

Top 10 ethnographic collections up to 1945:

England - 5,834

Italy - 1,397

France - 885

Sweden - 538

Norway - 536

Germany - 510

Scotland - 465

Russia - 456

Austria - 396

Greece - 204

NB Note that although Balfour and PR did field collect SOME of the objects listed above in both charts the numbers relate to the objects they donated from the countries in question (the number of objects they themselves field collected from each of these countries will be smaller)

Colonial countries collections up to 1945

[article ID:42]

Cyprus - 424

Gibraltar- 1

Malta- 435 [Total = 860]

Europe total = 41,898

Objects from former colonies of the UK form only 2 per cent of the total European collections up to 1945, this is a tiny percentage but is probably in proportion to the overall population and geographic size of the European colonies against Europe as a whole.

As far as Cyprus is concerned, the collection probably predates colonialisation (colonialisation from 1878, collection amassed by 1880) which would further reduce this very low percentage if taken into account.

That is, both Cyprus and Malta are one percent each of the total European archaeological collections up to 1945

That is, Cypriot collections are only 1 per cent of the total European ethnographic collections up to 1945, Gibraltar and Malta are both under 1 per cent.

For both archaeology and ethnographic collections up to 1945 being a colony of the UK does not appear to have increased the chances of having objects represented in the collections. In Part II the largest countries collections are listed.

European objects up to 1945 by type

[article ID:43]

Classes of European objects in descending order:

Tool - 21,018 [tools excluding weapons doublecounting = 17,776]

Weapon - 5,879 [weapons excluding tools doublecounting = 2,637][1]

Pottery - 4,984

Ornament & Bead - 2,456

Textile - 2,138

Religion - 1,637

Specimen - 1,540

Box - 1,479

Vessel - 1,469

Lighting - 1,445

Fire - 1,389

Reproduction - 1,292

Figure - 1,191

Geology - 1,075

Technique - 1,004

Writing - 985

Clothing - 976

Music - 928

Toy & Game - 906

Animalia - 862

Currency - 707

Food - 701

Animal Gear - 562

Measurement - 514

Model - 505

Photograph - 396

Picture - 694

Agriculture - 380

Physical Anthropology - 378

Trade - 359

Death - 324

Toilet - 323

Narcotic - 317

Fishing - 305

Transport - 304

Plant - 296

Lock - 213

Medicine - 209

Navigation - 195

Children - 189

Ceremonial - 184

Bag - 181

Insignia - 180

Dwelling - 149

Time - 128

Basketry - 91

Hunting - 91

Theatre - 87

Status - 84

Cordage - 77

Carving - 50

Punishment and Torture - 47

Furniture Dwelling - 41

Marriage - 34

Dance - 33

Metallurgy - 33

Sport - 32

Fan - 30

Body Art - 23

Commemoration - 22

Scientific Apparatus - 12

Signal - 8

Mask - 4

Headhunting - 1

Global up to 1945

Europe up to 1945



No. of objects



No of objects














Ornament & Bead **









Ornament & Bead













































Toy & Game













































Toy & Game








Tool and weapon are in the same place for both global statistics up to 1945 and Europe. Pottery is higher in Europe than globally [up to 3rd place from 5th]. Ornaments and beads are one place lower in Europe than globally. Textiles are much more common objects in Europe than globally (up from 11th place to 5th). Religious objects, vessels, figures, and animalia are slightly less in Europe than globally, as is clothing [down from 8th position globally to 17th in Europe). Music is also much lower in Europe rather surprisingly (down from 10th to 18th position) as are toys and games (down from 12 to 19). Specimens, boxes, writing are larger proportionally in Europe than in the global collections. Lighting is found very much more often in Europe than in the overall collections [10th position in Europe, 30th generally) as is Fire [11th position as opposed to 23rd], reproduction [12th position in Europe, 34th generally, geology [14 from 25]and finally Technique [15 from 22].

In European Statistics Part III there is a breakdown for all European countries by type. Again I will only look at the UK in detail:

UK in general:

Clothing - 354

Figures - 129

Music - 348

Ornaments & Beads - 515

Pottery - 3,646

Religion - 345

Specimens - 1,028

Tools - 14,782

Vessels - 805

Weapons - 3252

Boxes - 1,008

Lighting - 685

Textiles - 1556

Of the 3,646 pottery items, 3,599 are archaeological. Of the 14,782 tools, 12,318 are stone tools and 13,295 are archaeological. Of the 1,556 textile related material, 1,134 is lace related.

Part III gives a breakdown and comparison of each UK total for type against the European totals and in some instances against the global totals as well. It need hardly be summarised that in each category the UK is a large percentage of the overall European total and that it is often a large percentage of the global total as well

European collections up to 1945 - the collectors and donors

[article ID:44]

Pitt Rivers own collections - the founding collection of the PRM

Given that UK and specifically English stone tools so dominate the European collections it is likely that any collector of these figures prominently among European collectors (if measured by size of collection of course).

This appears to be true is so far as Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers so dominates UK collections and Europe collections:

Total Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers European collections: 10,312 [total Europe collections = 41,898]

Total AHLF Pitt Rivers UK collection: 6,078 [total UK collections = 25,596]

Total AHLF Pitt Rivers English collection: 5,487 [total English collections = 22,510]

In other words, one in every four European objects is an object which was part of the founding collection (NOT field collected by Pitt Rivers). The same percentage is true of the UK collections, that is one in every four UK object up to 1945 was part of the founding collection, and of the English collections:

We presume it will be obvious that in each case the finer geographical delination is included in the larger that is the part of the founding collection that is from England also forms part of the UK collections and thus form part of overall European Pitt Rivers collections.

As to Pitt Rivers as a field collector: Pitt Rivers at least potentially field collected 4447 European objects, 4055 UK objects (part of 4447 obviously) and 3948 English objects (part of 4447 and 4055 obviously):

By which it can be seen that at least there is a possibility that Pitt Rivers personally collected one in every 5 English object, and just over one in every 10 European object up to 1945.

To set this in some sort of context - Pitt Rivers' total collection (ie the founding collection) totalled 17,802 [using the objects prm database up to 1945 not the main networked database which will already have increased this figure since the ESRC database was created). The total figure for the PR founding collection keeps increasing because of the number of 'found unentered' items which are being retrieved both by the DCF court team and by Jenny Peck [then Curatorial Assistant] as part of normal collections management (two were found in one two week period).

Please note that the 18 African items were collected when Pitt Rivers was in Egypt and that 2 Asian items when he was in the Crimea (probably). These have not been included in the following table as both figures are less than 1 per cent of total founding collection

So Pitt Rivers Europe collection is 65 per cent of his total founding collection, and of those 20 per cent was probably field collected personally and 45 per cent by other people and for these items Pitt Rivers was the secondary collector.

Balfour's European collections

Henry Balfour donated 6,557 objects from Europe to the Pitt Rivers Museum, he field collected 5,536.

So 16 per cent of the PRM European collections up to 1945 were donated by Balfour:

and Balfour field collected 13 per cent of the European collections. Though these figures are not as large as Pitt Rivers (see above) they are still very significant.

Tylor's European collections

Tylor's European collection is much smaller, 860 objects of which 595 could have been field collected by him (860 is 2 per cent of the overall European collection)

Archibald Colquhoun Bell / Alexander Montgomerie Bell

There are 3,457 objects in this collection, most of them stone tools. They were donated by Archibald Colquhoun Bell and secondarily / field collected by Alexander Montgomerie Bell (his father). Not all Alexander Montgomerie Bell field collected items came via his son (some came via Balfour for example) but he may have field collected 3,586 objects in total. His name is given as secondary collector for 3,651 objects (of these 3,400 are stone tools, and 3,636 are archaeological). These totals for collection (whichever you take) are all significant figures (at between 8 and 9 per cent of all European PRM collections up to 1945). So nearly one in ten European objects came from the Bell collection in one form or another.

Mary Edith Durham dominates Balkan collections, and that the named collectors above dominate almost every other country.

Again we will look only at the UK collections in any detail:


Pitt Rivers dominates the UK collections:

However Balfour is also a very sizeable donor of British material:

From which it can be seen that Balfour gave 12 per cent of the UK collection of which 10 per cent had been (probably) field collected by himself.

Tylor was a much smaller donor of UK collections [429 in total or 2 per cent of the total European collections)

A prominent field collector of English objects (almost all archaeological, almost all stone tools) is Alexander Montgomerie Bell with 3,420 objects:


Pitt Rivers also dominates the English collections:

although Balfour also has a sizeable English collection:

Another large field collector of English objects was Alexander Montgomerie Bell:

Again Tylor's collections are much smaller, 403 objects in total of which 296 were possibly field collected by Tylor, Blackwood's are only a little smaller.


Eleanor Hope donated a large collection of stone tools and weapons from the Borders

Northern Ireland

GF Lawrence was a dealer

Northern Ireland or southern Ireland

As might be expected this category is dominated by Pitt Rivers, king of the unprovenanced   accession!

Channel Islands

Channel Island objects are dominated by archaeological items found by Marett, some were given directly but some were via Societe Jersaise.

Scilly Islands

All but 2 of the Scilly Islands material was given by Eustace Fulcrand Bosanquet who   collected and donated the archaeological items (there is a total of 22 objects so it does not seem worth doing a pie chart)

Isle of Man

Ernest Bickersteth Savage collected and gave 75 of the 81 Isle of Man objects (a lot of them tally sticks), again it does not seem worth doing a pie chart.

Summary of the European statistics summary!

The European statistics are dominated by objects from the UK and by objects which formed part of the founding collection from Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers although Henry Balfour also made a very large contribution.

ESRC 'Relational Museum'

October 2003

[1] If the actual number of definite tools is taken then tools are not second place but third after pottery

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The financial support of this project by the ESRC is gratefully acknowledged.