Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks - Encyclopedia




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SIR AUGUSTUS WOLLASTON FRANKS (1826-1897), English antiquary, was born on the 10th of March 1826, and was educated at Eton and at Trinity College, Cambridge. He early showed inclination for antiquarian pursuits, and in 1851 was appointed assistant in the Antiquities Department of the British Museum. Here, and as director of the Society of Antiquaries, an appointment he received in 1858, he made himself the first authority in England upon medieval antiquities of all descriptions, upon porcelain, glass, the manufactures of savage nations, and in general upon all Oriental curiosities and works of art later than the Classical period. In 1866 the British and medieval antiquities, with the ethnographical collections, were formed into a distinct department under his superintendence; and the Christy collection of ethnography in Victoria Street, London, prior to its amalgamation with the British Museum collections, was also under his care. He became vice-president and ultimately president of the Society of Antiquaries, and in 1878 declined the principal librarianship of the museum. He retired on his seventieth birthday, 1896, and died on the 21st of May 1897. His ample fortune was largely devoted to the collection of ceramics and precious objects of medieval art, most of which became the property of the nation, either by donation in his lifetime or by bequest at his death. Although chiefly a medieval antiquary, Franks was also an authority on classical art, especially Roman remains in Britain: he was also greatly interested in book-marks and playing-cards, of both of which he formed important collections. He edited Kemble's Horae Ferales, and wrote numerous memoirs on archaeological subjects. Perhaps his most important work of this class is the catalogue of his own collection of porcelain.

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