A black and white photograph of Anne Hull Grundy. Grundy rests her face in her right hand and is adorned with a bracelet and necklace

Anne Hull Grundy

Grundy

Anne Hull Grundy (1926–1984) was one of the 20th century's most significant collectors of jewellery and a generous benefactor to the British Museum.

She says: "I am an art historian and my collections were formed to be written about."

Her gift of over 900 items of jewellery to the Museum in 1978, prompted many subsequent acquisitions from other donors. 

Grundy

Hull Grundy was born in Nuremberg, Germany, into a Jewish banking and manufacturing family in 1926, and her family resettled in England when the National Socialist government took power in Germany in 1933.

Her father re-established his pressed metal business, Mettoy, in Northampton.

Mettoy became a household name as the producer of Corgi cars. It was profit from these toys together with income from the family bank that enabled Hull Grundy to create one of the greatest post-war collection of 19th-century jewellery.

Grundy

In addition to jewellery, Anne Hull Grundy and her husband Professor John Hull Grundy, were also interested in the arts of Japan, particularly in Jizai (articulated animal sculptures) and Netsuke (carved ornaments worn on kimonos).

Hull Grundy never visited Japan and many of the objects she acquired were obtained by post or by dealers coming directly to her home. 

Grundy

Starting her collecting at the age of 11, Hull Grundy developed a serious interest in what jewellery meant to the people who wore it. She was as passionate about Victorian botanical jewellery with messages hidden in each flower as about the goldsmiths' skills in executing exquisite goldwork that copied ancient jewels dug up in archaeological excavations.

Later in life, Hull Grundy described herself evocatively as "a large spider sitting at the centre of a web of dealers and museums".

Grundy

Eventually, Hull Grundy was to share her collection with a number of other museums in Britain.

The British Museum was the recipient of many of her most important pieces by well-known makers, but no less than 70 collections have benefited from her knowledge and generosity. 

Further reading

  • Charlotte Gere and Judy Rudoe, Knowledge, Money and Time: Anne Hull Grundy as a Collector of Victorian Jewellery, Journal of the Decorative Arts Society 24 (2000), pp 80–97.
  • Charlotte Gere and Judy Rudoe, Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria: A Mirror to the World, London, British Museum Press, 2010