Sarah Sophia Banks (Biographical details)

Sarah Sophia Banks (collector; British; Female; 1744 - 1818)

Also known as

Banks, Sarah Sophia


Collector of prints and printed ephemera, coins, medals and jetons. Bequeathed her collections to her brother Sir Joseph Banks (q.v.) and his wife, Dorothea, who immediately presented them to the BM; they are now divided between the BM and the BL. For a listing of the main elements of the material in the Department of Prints and Drawings, see the User's Guide; for material in the Department of Coins and Medals see several hand-written registers donated with the coins. About 6,000 trade-cards are kept in a series chiefly from the Banks collection but also including cards from the Franks, Fielden and other collections; they are arranged according to the categories devised by Ambrose Heal (q.v.). Nine volumes of prints, broadsides, newspaper cuttings, etc. are in the BL, LR.301.h.3-11
Sarah Banks is said to be the subject of a satire by James Gillray entitled An Old Maid on a Journey, 1804 (BM Sat 10300) but it seems unlikely that he would ridicule such an important client (she owned over 100 prints by Gillray, but not this one); for other portraits see Pincott.
Material from the collection is entered on the collections database as presented by (D) Dorothea Banks, with previous owner (PO), Sarah Sophia Banks.
In the Department of Coins and Medals, objects from Sarah Sophia Banks have tickets with the letters SSB.


Her own manuscript catalogue is in BL 460.d.13, with publishers, prices etc., prints 1771-1807 listed on fol. 99ff. (see also 460.g.1); correspondence and papers, BL Add. MSS 6300-6341 and BL Add. MS 32640
Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine, 1st ser., 88/2, 1818, p. 472
Will, 21 Sept 1818
A. Griffiths and R. Williams, The Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum: User's Guide, 1987, pp.82-4
A. Pincott, The book tickets of Miss Sarah Sophia Banks (1744-1818), in The Bookplate Journal, New Series, Vol. 2, No. 1, March 2004, pp. 3-30 (with miniature portrait reproduced on front cover)
See also Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and National Register of Archives.