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Detail: Commemorative dish, maker unknown; England, c1662; pewter

Detail: Commemorative dish, maker unknown; England, c1662; pewter
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James Cobbett Fenton collection gift, 1972, p32

"The first thing I saw when I sailed up Auckland Harbour 12 years ago was the Museum. A beautiful place, I’ve grown fond of it. There are many pewter collections in Britain. Your museum has none, that’s why I’m giving it mine."

For twelve summers after he retired, James Cobbett Fenton (born circa 1898 – died 1995, York, England), manufacturer and ardent pewter collector came to New Zealand to see his son and to go fishing.

After visiting the museum in 1969, he decided to leave ‘something to the museum of what his ancestors had made.’ In 1972 at the age of 75, Fenton offered a collection of seventeen items of English pewter to Auckland Museum. This became a definitive collection when, in 1974, 94 other pieces of English and European pewter, along with 17th and 18th century oak and other furniture, glass, carpets and clocks were donated.

‘Fenton secured his first piece of pewter in 1927 when an uncle bought two candlesticks in a church sale, gave them to someone who gave them to him. That started him collecting.’

‘Fenton would go to auctions, into secondhand shops, gradually collecting some superb pieces … He met [Howard Herschel] Cotterell, the ‘supreme pewter authority’ who got him into the Society of Pewter Collectors – at a time when it was fashionable for gentlemen to be members of unorthodox clubs.’ He became the President of the English Pewter Society from 1949 – 1951.

In recognition of such an outstanding gift of one of the worlds outstanding collections of English pewter, Fenton was made a Honorary Life Member of the Institution in 1975.

Date: 2018-04-06 15:10:56

6 april 2018 auckland war memorial museum auckland museum museum moment

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