India Office (Biographical details)

India Office (institution/organisation; British; 1858 - 1947)

Also known as

India Office


When the British Crown took over the government of India from the British East India Company (1600-1858), the India Office (1858-1947) replaced the Board of Control (1784-1858) as a British Government department in London handling affairs relating to the government of British India. The India Office ceased to exist as a government department in 1947 with the independence of India and Pakistan, and its role was taken over by the Foreign and Colonial Office. Any donations to the British Museum from the India Office after this date would be recorded as 'United Kingdom, Government of''.

When the East India Company was disbanded in 1858, its India Museum (q.v.) in London also came under the India Office's jurisdiction. When the India Museum closed in 1879, the antiquities and archaeological collections including coins were transferred to the British Museum (1880-82), the South Kensington Museum (now known as the V&A) and other museums. The coin collections from the India Museum which were transferred to the British Museum in 1882 have the registration number IOC (India Office Collection) followed by a running number. A large percentage of the coins from the India Museum which were not transferred were sold at auction in London in 1887. Some of these coins later entered the British Museum collection from other sources..

The India Office Library was the successor of the East India Company Library (1801-58), holding India Office archives, records and publications relating to British India and also remnants of the India Museum's collections that had not been transferred or sold after the Museum closed in 1879. After 1947, the India Office Library continued to exist as an independent entity until 1982 when it was incorporated into the British Library. In 1995 and 2007 residue collections of coins and other small finds which had once been in the India Museum, and were inherited by the British Library as part of the India Office Library collections, were transferred on loan to the British Museum. This is subject to renewal of a loan agreement every 10 years. These coins and finds have the registration number beginning IOLC (India Office Loan Collection) followed by a running number.