Explore / Articles
Octavius Morgan (1803-88)
Octavius Morgan was educated at Westminster School in London and at Christ Church Oxford. He was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, a Fellow of the Royal Society, President of the Royal Archaeological Institute and became Member of Parliament for Monmouth. He was also a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant for Monmouth.
He began his collection of clocks and watches in 1837 with the purchase in Ratisbon of a small group of antique watches. By 1848 Morgan was well informed on the subject of horology and delivered a paper to the Society of Antiquaries of London, entitled 'The history and progress of the art of watch-making from the earliest times'. In years that followed he contributed papers on watches, clocks, rings, plate, pottery, deeds, printed books, Roman remains, ironwork, and many kinds of medieval antiquities. He even submitted a serious paper concerning 'The extinction of several varieties of dogs in England'. He was also one of the first to assess and publish the dating system of English hallmarking of precious metals.
During his lifetime, Morgan presented a number of objects to The British Museum, including the famous automated nef by Hans Schlottheim in 1866, a magnificent table clock by Lucas Weydmann and a fine set of miner's survey instruments by Tobias Volckmer of Brunswick both in 1867. On his death in 1888 he bequeathed his fine collections of clocks watches, scientific instruments, chamberlains' keys, Papal rings and a number of items of glass and ceramics to The British Museum.