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'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 1898,1231 - 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 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.


Roy Davids and Dominic Jellinek, " Provenance: Collectors, Dealers and Scholars: Chinese Ceramics in Britain and America", 2011, pp. 185&186
Jessica Harrison-Hall, Chinese ceramics, 2009
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
Marjorie Caygill and John Cherry (eds),"'A. W. Franks, Nineteenth-Century Collecting and the British Museum" London: BMP, 1997
Soame Jenyns, "The Franks Collection of Oriental Antiquities", "The 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
A. W. Franks, 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