- Also known as
Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks
primary name: Franks, Augustus Wollaston
other name: Franks, A W
- individual; curator; collector; British; Male
- Life dates
- Born in Geneva, Switzerland. Franks's 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 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 1895,0420.1 to 251. His bequest included 70,000 items of printed ephemera including over 50,000 bookplates (block registered under 1897,1231 - 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 usually been kept as a registration number, although a small group was registered with 1983,U numbers), other printed ephemera (kept separately from the Banks collection, but with ephemera from other sources) and miscellaneous prints of various kinds. Each group of objects has its own form of registration number.
Roy Davids and Dominic Jellinek, 'Provenance: Collectors, Dealers and Scholars: Chinese Ceramics in Britain and America', 2011, pp. 185-6
Stacey Pierson, 'Collectors, Collections and Museums: The Field of Chinese Ceramics in Britain, 1560-1960', 2007, pp. 73-6, 78, 83-4.
Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere, "A.W. Franks, N. Ninagawa and the British Museum: Collecting Japanese Ceramics in Victorian Britain", Orientations 33:2 (Feb. 2002), pp. 22-34
Marjorie Caygill and John Cherry (eds), ''A. W. Franks, Nineteenth-Century Collecting and the British Museum', BMP, 1997
David Wilson, 'The Forgotten Collector: Augustus Wollaston Franks of the British Museum', Thames & Hudson, 1984.
Soame Jenyns, "The Franks Collection of Oriental Antiquities", British Museum Quarterly, vol. 18, no. 4, 1953.
F. Lugt, Marques des Collections, 1921, no.344
Pieces from the Franks Collection are illustrated in Edgar Gorer and J. F. Blacker, "Chinese Porcelain and Hardstones", 2 vols. 1911