Design for the title page of A Catalogue of Benefactions to the British Museum...
London, England, 1820s-1840s
From the 'Original Papers' series
One of the main series of records of the British Museum is called 'Original Papers'. The earliest volumes include papers on all matters that were reported to the Museum's Trustees, from the establishment of the Museum and the acquisition of major collections to the purchase of coal for heating the building.
An entry in the first volume (1743-84) refers to the design for a book to record all donations to the Museum. The format for the title page is shown: A Catalogue of Benefactions to the British Museum with the Names of the Benefactors in the order of time, together with the method of recording the gifts. It was hoped that this formal acknowledgement would be beneficial '...both for preserving the memory of those Benefactors and incouraging (sic) others to an imitation of such laudable examples'. Since 1756 all donations have been recorded.
The names of major benefactors to the British Museum can be seen inscribed on a series of panels on a wall near the Weston Great Hall.