About the Collection

About the Harrogate Egyptian Collection
The Royal Pump Room Museum, Harrogate

This online catalogue presents objects from Harrogate, which are currently on loan to the Egypt Centre, Swansea University. The collection comprises of over 800 objects, the majority of which originate from Egypt. Part of the collection was previously displayed in the Royal Pump Room Museum, which is owned and operated by North Yorkshire Council

The previous display of Egyptian objects at the Royal Pump Room Museum, Harrogate (July 2022)

Harrogate’s museum is one of many regional museums in the UK with a collection of Egyptian antiquities. The objects were donated by two local collectors, Benjamin William John Kent (1885–1968) and James Roberts Ogden (1866–1940), who had assembled their collections in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of the objects, particularly those from Kent, were purchased at auction. In fact, objects from Kent’s collection are known to have come from the auctions of Robert de Rustafjaell (1859–1943), Henry Martyn Kennard (1833–1911), Frederick George Hilton Price (1842–1909), Field Marshal Francis Wallace Grenfell (1841–1925), and others. These collectors are known from material housed in the Egypt Centre, where the Harrogate collection is currently on loan. The Harrogate loan has been called Rediscovering Egypt, with the aim to study both the objects and the collectors—how did Ogden and Kent acquire their objects and why?

The material is quite diverse and includes stelae, statues, pottery, stone vessels, shabtis, amulets, canopic jars, a coffin, funerary cones, mummy masks, jewellery, papyrus, copper alloy votive statues, maceheads, terracotta figures, and many more object types. There is even a number of non-Egyptian items that arrived, including Etruscan mirrors and a large collection of cuneiform tablets, bricks, and cylinder seals. Perhaps the most famous object is the Anubis mask (HARGM10686), which can be traced back to the 1907 sale of Robert de Rustafjaell. The purpose of the online catalogue is to make the collection more accessible to Egyptologists and the wider public, wherever they may be.

Anubis mask (HARGM10686)

Some of the highlights include HARGM3584, which is one of a number of inscribed stelae from the Harrogate loan. Carved across three registers, it contains a winged Behdet in the lunette, with two recumbent jackals on plinths below. In the second register, the deceased is shown in adoration on the far right before a table of offerings, an enthroned Osiris, and standing figures of Anubis and Hathor (all unlabelled). In the register below, five lines of hieroglyphs begin with the offering formula addressed to Osiris. This inscription provides the name of the owner as Hetepnesmin, who held the title “Singer of Min”. The stela was previously in the collection of George Matthews Arnold, the mayor of Gravesend, who established the “Arnold Museum” at Milton Hall. It was sold at auction in 1911 where it was purchased by the dealer J. E. & E. K. Preston. It was later acquired by the Kent family, who bequeathed it to Harrogate Museum in 1968.

Stela of Hetepnesmin (HARGM3584)

HARGM3722 is one of three shabtis of Seti I in the collection. While the other two are the more common wooden figures, this one is a beautiful faience example. Seti was the ruler of Egypt (c. 1294–1279 BC) during the Nineteenth Dynasty who was buried in the most wonderful tomb in the Valley of the Kings (KV 17). These faience shabtis are undoubtedly some of the finest ever produced and are recognized as masterpieces of Egyptian art and craftsmanship. The shabti was previously part of the collection of Ernest Ambrose Vivian, 2nd Baron Swansea (1848–1922), which was sold at auction in 1919. It was later part of the Kent collection, which was bequeathed to Harrogate Museum in 1968.

Shabti of Seti I (HARGM3722)

HARGM7627 is a blue glazed steatite scaraboid or plaque with a longitudinal hole for threading. One side is decorated with an image of a sphinx with a winged uraeus above it. The throne name of Hatshepsut (Maatkare) is inscribed next to the sphinx. Hatshepsut was one of only a handful of females who ruled Egypt (c. 1479–1458 BC). The sphinx and griffin were seen as special manifestations of the ruler in ancient Egyptian iconography. The reverse side is decorated with a cartouche of Maatkare and a baboon sitting on the hieroglyphic sign nb in front of the title “the Good God, Lady of the Two Lands”. Previously part of the Ogden collection, which was gifted to Harrogate Museum in the 1930s.
Hatshepsut scaraboid (HARGM7627)

Rediscovering Egypt: the Harrogate collection in Swansea
In this video, from the Egypt Centre's 25th anniversary celebrations in 2023, the Egypt Centre's Curator, Ken Griffin provides an overview of the arrival of the Harrogate material in Swansea, and an overview of some of the initial discoveries relating to the collection.