Last Friday, November 15th 2013, Campbell and Anna kindly invited me to contribute to an ACCES Workshop at Manchester Museum about ‘Egyptology in the North-West: Contextualising your Collection’. There were people there from the Garstang Museum, World Museum Liverpool, Kendal Museum and Macclesfield West Park Museum. I spoke for about 20 minutes about two collectors of Egyptology in the North of England: Aquila Dodgson (1830-1919) and Thomas Sheppard (1876-1945) of Hull Museums.
Although both are best known for their work east of the Pennines, Aquila Dodgson’s first job was as a Congregational Minister before later switching to a career in textiles in the North West. This financially more lucrative employment provided opportunities to travel to Egypt and to fund the work of researchers such as William Flinders Petrie. As Campbell remarked, “Dodgson’s a mini Jesse Howarth!”.
Dodgson had a collection of Egyptology which was partly dispersed at his death, and so Dodgson Egyptology can now be found in Manchester Museum, Leeds Museums and Queen’s College at the University of Melbourne in Australia. I showed photos of Dodgson objects acquired by Leeds some years ago and Campbell and Anna brought out some of the recently-acquired Feather collection which also includes Dodgson specimens. It was very useful to confirm that a distinctive type of label with a red border was indeed a Dodgson and not a later collector’s label. If any readers out there happen to have Egyptology labelled in this way, do let us know.
The other collector, Thomas Sheppard, was a larger than life character who has been described as ‘one of the most successful museum curators of the first half of the 20th century’. Sheppard’s success in creating new museums in Hull was largely down to his collecting activities. He collected practically anything and everything during his 40 year career, including Egyptology. The reason for talking about him at a seminar about Egyptology in the North West was an unexpected link to the Manchester mummy Ta-sheri-ankh brought to my attention by Campbell. As this is quite a long and involved story I’ll write about this in a separate blog.