Frederick William Lucas, FLS; FZS, 1842 – 1932

Solicitor, Author, Museum owner, Collector.

The Booth Museum biographical archive has numerous items relating to Frederick William Lucas. These include nine original photographs of his Rottingdean Museum, his original hand written catalogue, a photographic portrait of him and a letter from Lucas to another important Booth Museum figure, Arthur Foster Griffith.

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Lucas dedicated his spare time to running a private museum at his home, Northgate House, in Rottingdean. His principal interest was zoology but he also assembled a vertebrae collection, entirely through purchases, and a rich world cultures collection numbering around 600 objects. The variety of world cultures material reflects Lucas’s fascination with how people around the world used animal produce.

The Booth Museum now cares for his collection of 1,291 catalogued vertebrate specimens. These consist of nine amphibians, 277 birds, 959 mammals, twenty fish and twenty reptiles. The majority of the collection is made up of cranial specimens but there are also articulated skeletons and twenty-three examples of Dodo bones! The collection, particularly the articulated skeletons, formed the basis of the skeleton or osteology gallery at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery until it was moved to the Booth Museum in 1975.

The Lucas collection is fascinating for two reasons. Firstly, Lucas acquired all his objects and specimens through salerooms, dealers, other collectors and sometimes directly from travellers and, secondly, the world cultures material is not only utilitarian but also extremely beautiful.

Lucas wrote the definitive work on North American Powder Horns entitled “Appendiculae Historiae or Shards of History sung on a horn”.

As well as his interests in science, Lucas was a keen musician and artist. After his retirement in 1925 Lucas moved away from Rottingdean and donated almost the entirety of his collection, together with cabinets and display cases, to Brighton Museum & Art Gallery.

Jeremy Adams, retired Assistant Keeper at the Booth Museum

3 Responses

  1. Johanna Parker

    Hi Jeremy

    Interesting article, thank you. Can you direct me to any publications or further articles about Lucas? Do you know if he has been the topic of anyone’s PHD thesis?

    Thanks for your help from Australia

    Johanna

    • kevinbacon

      Thanks for your comment, Johanna. Will pass this on to our World Art team who may be able to advise you further.

      Best,

      Kevin

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