Sloane's Treasures – Workshop 2: Sloane’s ‘Artificial Rareties’ – Breakout 1

Event Date: 31 May 2012
Hartwell Room
The British Museum
Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG

Sloane’s Treasures – Workshop 2: Sloane’s ‘Artificial Rareties’

Breakout group one:
The presenters of the morning presentations will then chair the discussion in their break outs when they can take it further with fellow experts focussing on:

  • A list of desiderata of what you would want the Reconstructing Sloane project to achieve in this area, what you would want it to explore, catalogue etc
  • Research questions that could be addressed during the work on the collections and the networks and other topics they throw up
  • Possible outcomes and projects
  • How can we connect science and culture through exploring this part of his collections (e.g. connections with natural history, medicine, possible scientific research/conservation that can be done)

A few words from David Saunders: Conservation and Scientific Perspectives:


1. Jill Cook : Hans Sloane and Thomas Molyneux
Following on from research on Sloane’s interest in elephants, I am working with Professor Peter Woodman (Cork University) on his connection with Thomas Molyneux (1631-1733). This work has four elements:

  • research on the Sloane/Molyneux papers in the British Library (JC);
  • research on the Molyneux papers at Trinity College and the Royal Academy in Dublin (PW);
  • search for the specimens in Armagh, Dublin and London (JC & PW);
  • archive and fieldwork to establish the location of the Cavan elephant described by Molyneux/Sloane with a view to excavations to establish the date of remains which are relevant to modern research on the Pleistocene of Ireland (JC&PW)

(Discussion group: JD Hill, David Saunders, Martha Fleming, Clare Brant, Peter Barber)
Discussion results (Martha Fleming):



2. Jessica Harrison-Hall: “I could perhaps talk for 5 minutes on Sloane’s Chinese glass? We have a scholar from the Palace Museum here on a JS Lee Fellowship who is looking at our glass and I have a very few images which I could literally introduce if this is appropriate….”
Clarissa von Spee: “The Chinese prints and paintings collected by Sloane . Both groups need further exploration and this is a good opportunity to start with. I will look and discuss briefly some of Sloane’s albums and prints in the Asia Department in the BM so that we can begin to look.”
Anne Farrer: The dating of the Chinese prints from Hans Sloane’s collection: the associations with Engelbert Kaempfer (1651-1716) and James Cunningham (fl. 1698-ca 1709)
European inventoried collections of the eighteenth century contain rare groups of Chinese prints that can be dated through provenance and acquisition. The seventy-one prints from the Sloane collection now in the BM’s Department of Asia fall into two major groups that have been associated with Engelbert Kaempfer and James Cunningham. Tracing the prints through the stages of cataloguing from the early twentieth century BM registers backwards to the 1832 catalogue, and to the original entries in Sloane’s catalogue presents a more complex picture of acquisition and dating.
(Discussion group: Maxine Berg, Charlie Jarvis, Frances Wood)
Discussion results (Jessica Harrison-Hall):


3. Antony Griffiths: Sloane’s print collection
Sloane’s print collection was given a separate numbering system within his library, and so we can get some idea of its content and his interests in it. As a result of subsequent institutional reorganisations within the British Museum, identification of surviving elements is very difficult, but not impossible, and more can probably be achieved than has been done thus far.
Felicity Roberts/Kim Sloan: Sloane’s albums of drawings
(Discussion group: An Van Camp, Giulia Bartrum, Sachiko Kusukawa, Florike Egmond, Caroline Barry)
Discussion results (Antony Griffiths):


4. Xerxes MazdaPublic Programming Sloane in the BM
The importance of public programming and a summary of the type of public programming the BM has been doing recently (such as Talking Objects) that you feel would be the type of thing we could do with Reconstructing Sloane
(Discussion group: Frances Carey, Sarah Longair, Honor Gay, Janet Larkin, Joy Gregory, Sam Alberti, Julie Harvey)
Discussion results (Xerxes Mazda):


Jonathan King: Sloane’s Ethnographic Collections
I will describe briefly the type of ethnographic material Sloane collected and generally how he acquired it. I will use the Akan drum as an example of how working from the ms catalogues, correspondence and his library as well as modern scientific research can reveal so much more about the objects and the original owners and collectors.
(Discussion group: Steve Hooper, Khadija Carroll La, Lissant Bolton, Jeremy Coote, James Delbourgo)
Discussion results (Jonathan King):


5. Ian Jenkins: Sloane’s Antiquities
A brief survey of his collection of this material, asking whether we can describe Sloane as a collector of antiquities or virtu or whether, by examining the deeper history of his collection of this material, does it reveal that most of it came through Courten, current excavations,  or bulk buying of other collections in order to complete his own.
(Discussion group: Stephanie Moser, Craig Hanson, Arthur MacGregor, Peter de Bolla, Ellen Adams, Elma Brenner)
Discussion results (Arthur MacGregor):


6. Marjorie Caygill: Sloane’s own Manuscript Catalogues of his Collections
The virtual recreation of Sloane’s collection from his manuscript catalogues by means of modern technology is one of the aims of ‘Reconstructing Sloane’.   Some indication of what might emerge from such a reconstruction, based on a preliminary transcript of parts of the ‘Miscellanies’ catalogue, and a brief survey of others, will be put forward.  This may assist in deciding the methods by which the catalogues can be recreated, what information should be taken from the originals and how this material can be made available to researchers and the general public.
(Discussion group: Arnold Hunt, Alison Walker, Michael Hunter, Emily Senior, Luisa Cale, Anne Goldgar)
Discussion results (Alison Walker):


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