Do You Have a Set of British Museum Electrotypes?

Mary Hinton in front of a frame with a set of British Museum electrotypes in the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, University of Reading. Photo: Amelia Dowler.
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You may remember the fantastic exhibition about the work of the Money and Medals Network held at the British Museum in 2018. One of the objects displayed was a frame of electrotype replica coins, one of a series of seven kindly loaned by the Science Museum, entitled “Late Decline of Art, Period VII, Circa B.C. 100-1” (see MMN Newsletter 73).

Many similar sets were produced by the BM from the 1880s for distribution by donation to, or for purchase by, museums, schools and other institutions for educational purposes. The original sets include 2 frames of gems and scarabs and 4 frames of Greek and Roman coins and medallions arranged in 7 periods, which replaced Eckhel’s original 5 for classifying coins, and which illustrated the development and decline of art. Sets of Historic English Medals, in 3 frames from Henry VIII to George III, were produced slightly later.

Although these sets of electrotypes have been documented as being originally designated for circulation to UK regional museums and art galleries, some are also present in collections overseas.

I have been researching the history of these sets and would love to hear from you if you have any of these in your collections, either in storage or on display, or any knowledge relating to sets no longer present. Any information gratefully received especially concerning collections beyond the UK.


Please get in touch with Mary Hinton via email.

Learn here more about electrotypes and how to detect them.