New Book | Collecting the Past: British Collectors

Posted in books by Editor on September 28, 2018

From Routledge:

Toby Burrows and Cynthia Johnston, eds., Collecting the Past: British Collectors and their Collections from the 18th to the 20th Centuries (New York: Routledge, 2018), 144 pages, ISBN: 978-0815382348, $60.

Today’s libraries and museums are heavily indebted to the passions and obsessions of numerous individual collectors who devoted their lives to amassing collections of books, manuscripts, artworks, and other culturally significant objects. Collecting the Past brings together the latest research on a wide range of significant British collectors from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries, including Hans Sloane, Sarah Sophia Banks, Thomas Phillipps, Sydney Cockerell, J. P. Morgan Jr., Alfred Chester Beatty, and R. E. Hart.

Contributors to the volume examine the phenomenon of collecting in a variety of settings and across a range of different materials. Considering the aims and motives that led these collectors to assemble such remarkable collections, the book also examines the history of these collections after the collector’s death. Particular attention is given to the often complicated relationship between collectors and the public institutions that subsequently came to house their collections. Situated within the framework of cultural collecting more generally, this book offers an authoritative series of essays on key collectors.

Toby Burrows is Senior Researcher at the University of Oxford and a Senior Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia.
Cynthia Johnston is Lecturer in the History of the Book and Communications at the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London.


1  Toby Burrows and Cynthia Johnston, Collecting the Past: Manuscript and Book Collecting in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries
2  Alice Marples, Creating and Keeping a National Treasure: The Changing Uses of Hans Sloane’s Collection in the Eighteenth Century
3  Arlene Leis, Sarah Sophia Banks: A ‘Truly Interesting Collection of Visiting Cards and Co.’
4  Toby Burrows, ‘There Never Was Such a Collector Since the World Began’: A New Look at Sir Thomas Phillipps
5  Laura Cleaver and Danielle Magnusson, American Collectors and the Trade in Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts in London, 1919–1939: J. P. Morgan Junior, A. Chester Beatty, and Bernard Quaritch Ltd.
6  Stella Panayotova, Sydney Cockerell: A Bibliophile Director-Collector
7  Cynthia Johnston, Spending a Fortune: Robert Edward Hart, Bibliophile and Numismatist, An Industrialist Collector in Blackburn, Lancashire
8  Karen Attar, Ossified Collections: The Past Encapsulated in British Institutions Today

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