Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks (Biographical details)

Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks (curator; collector; British; Male; 1826 - 1897)

Also known as

Franks, Augustus Wollaston; Franks, A W


Born in Geneva, Switzerland. Franks' long career at the British Museum began in 1851 with his appointment as assistant in the Department of Antiquities. He went on to serve as the Museum's first Keeper of British and Medieval Antiquities and Ethnography (1866-1896). He greatly enriched the Museum's holdings through careful acquisition and the donation of his own vast and valuable collections. Franks died in London and is buried in Kensal Green cemetery. The monument above the grave has now achieved Grade II Listing.
Franks was also one of the Trustees of the Christy Collection and associated Christy Fund, which from the late 1860s made major contributions to the development of the Museum's ethnographic and archaeological collections. As a Trustee of the Christy Collection, Franks often used both the Christy Fund and his his own money to acquire objects which were later presented to the British Museum.
Franks' numerous donations to the Museum included a group of portraits registered 1895-4-18-1 to 251. His bequest included 70,000 items of printed ephemera including over 50,000 bookplates (see User's Guide to the Department of Prints and Drawings), trade cards (integrated into the Banks collection; as they are identified by the Banks location number that has been kept as a registration number), other printed ephemera (kept separately from the Banks collection, but with ephemera from other sources and known as the Franks collection) and miscellaneous prints of various kinds. Each group of objects has its own form of registration number.
Publications: "A Catalogue of a Collection of Oriental Pottery and Porcelain Lent for Exhibition and Described by Augustus W. Franks, F.R.S., F.S.A"., 1876.


Marjorie Caygill and John Cherry (eds),"'A. W. Franks, Nineteenth-Century Collecting and the British Museum" London: BMP, 1997;
Chinese ceramics by Jessica Harrison-Hall
Soame Jenyns, "The Franks Collection of Oriental Antiquities", "The British Museum Quarterly, vol. 18, no. 4, 1953. Pieces from the Franks Collection are illustrated in Edgar Gorer and J. F. Blacker, "Chinese Porcelain and Hardstones", 2 vols. 1911; Roy Davids and Dominic Jellinek, " PROVENANCE: Collectors, Dealers and Scholars: Chinese Ceramics in Britain and America", 2011, pp. 185&186; Stacey Pierson, "Collectors, Collections and Museums: The Field of Chinese Ceramics in Britain, 1560-1960"2007, pp. 73-6, 78, 83-4.,
Jessica Harrison-Hall, "Catalogue of late Yuan and Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, 2001, pp. 589&590; Roy Davids and Dominic Jellineck, "PROVENANCE: Collectors, Dealers & Scholars: Chinese Ceramics in Britain & America", 2011, pp. 185&186; Stacey Pierson, "Collectors, Collections & Museums: The Field of Chinese Ceramics in Britain, 1560-1960", 2007, pp. 73-6, 78, 83-4.
Read C.H. 1901. Franks, Sir Augustus Wollaston (1826-1897) Dictionary of National Biography Supplement II, London, pp. 665-8