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In Focus

The following people represents a selection of topical, unusual or interesting records from our collection. These records have been selected by our team of curators.

Name:  Holcroft, Charles
Nationality:  British
Occupation:  Iron & Coal Master

Charles Holcroft was born at Bilston, Staffs on 16 July 1831, the younger son of Thomas Holcroft of Brierley Hill, and was well known for over fifty years as a sucessful iron and coal master. He began his career in 1848 at Horseley Engineering Works, Tipton, as a junior in the drawing office. In 1856, and for some years afterwards, he was associated with his brother James and others in the firm of Messrs Hall, Holcroft and Pearson, whose business included laying down of plant and sinking of the first pits of the Conduit Colliery Company at Cannock Chase. This no doubt presented Charles with the opportunity to develop his leisure interest in geology. His brother James also shared the same interest and made a collection of some 500 specimens which included Coal Measure plant fossils. From 1876-1897, Charles Holcroft assembled a major collection of fossils, predominantly from the West Midlands area. The majority of the specimens are of Silurian and Carboniferous age and represent a wide variety of animal and plant groups. Shortly after Charles finished active collecting he began to disperse the collection, making generous donations to Mason College, Sydney Museum, West Bromwich Museum and to various individuals. The scientific and historical value of the Holcroft Collection is enhanced by the existence of Sir Charles Holcroft's manuscript catalogue of his collection. The columns list the catalogue number of each specimen, the name he applied to the fossil, its stratigraphic and geographical location, the person from whom he purchased the specimen, the year of purchase and the price. After Sir Charles Holcroft's death the collection was donated to Mason College by his nephew Sir George Holcroft in 1917. Sir Charles had been a major benefactor of the College.   [More Detail]

Name:  Whitting, Philip David
Nationality:  British
Occupation:  Academic

Philip Whitting donated his vast collection of principally Byzantine coins to the Barber Institute through the 1970s with his later acquisitions being absorbed by the Barber in the 1980s until his death in 1988. He was well-published on a number of topics relating to Byzantine numismatics and his unpublished writings about his coins can still be consulted at the Barber Institute. He also encouraged his friend and colleague, Geoffrey Haines, to donate his collection of principally Roman coins to the Barber Institute, the two collections forming the backbone of the Barber's collection to this day. Philip Whitting was also a lecturer in Byzantine Studies at the University of Birmingham and has the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies' prinicpal seminar room named after him.   [More Detail]

Name:  Myers, William Joseph
Nationality:  British
Occupation:  Military Officer, Traveller, Collector

Trained at Sandhurst and then commissioned into the King's Royal Rifle Corps where he served for 16 years until 1894. Posted to Cairo in 1882 at the age of 24. Began collecting in 1884.

Myers bequeathed his collection to Eton , which he attended between 1871 and 1875. He returned to Eton, four years after retiring from the Army, as Adjutant to the Volunteers, a force made up of boys from the school. In 1898 he went back to the army and to South Africa where he was killed soon after.   [More Detail]