Harry Geoffrey Beasley (Biographical details)

Harry Geoffrey Beasley (collector; British; Male; 1881 - 1939)

Also known as

Beasley, Harry Geoffrey


Entry relates mainly to the Melanesia collection:
Harry Geoffrey Beasley (1881 – 1939) was a wealthy brewery owner whose private collecting passion began when, aged 13, he bought two Solomon Island clubs. In 1914 was elected to the Royal Anthropological Institute with which, in different capacities, he maintained an association until 1937. He and his wife, Irene, established the Cranmore Ethnographic Museum in Chislehurst, Kent where they had moved in 1928, compiling the Cranmore Index of Pacific Material Culture based on James Edge-Partington’s Index for the British Museum and forming a considerable library. Although the Beasleys collected artefacts worldwide – including Africa (particularly Benin), North-west America and Asia - their main focus was the Pacific. Objects were acquired from dealers, missionaries and from, or in exchanges with, various museums. Beasley’s comprehensive monograph on Oceanic fish-hooks was published in 1928. The Cranmore Museum was damaged by bombing in World War 2 and in accordance with Beasley’s will his widow, Irene M Beasley (q.v), offered the first selection of the collection (apart from a limited reservation for herself) as a donation to the Museum. The gift of several thousand items became fully effective in 1944. Other named beneficiaries include the Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford; The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge; and National Museums, Scotland.


H.J. Braunholtz and A. Digby, 'The Beasley Collection', BMQ (1952) XV, 103-5.

Hermione Waterfield and J.C.H.King, 'Provenance, twelve collectors of ethnographic art in England 1760-1990', Paris 2006

Lucie Carreau 'Collecting the Collector: Being an Exploration of Harry Geoffrey Beasley's Collection of Pacific Artefacts Made in the Years 1895-1939' (PhD thesis 2009 - Norwich, UEA)