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Collector profile: Frederick William Lucas (1842–1932)

Frederick William Lucas was a solicitor, author, museum owner and collector from Brighton, England, who had an interest in collecting objects made of animal and natural material as well as human remains.

Aside from being a solicitor, Lucas ran a private museum at his home, Northgate House, in Rottingdean. All of the objects in his collection were acquired through purchase from auction sales, dealers, other collectors, and directly from travellers.  

His collection

Numbering over 1,200 specimens, his collection is now housed at the Booth Museum in Brighton, following his retirement in 1925. His skeletal collection formed the basis of the osteology gallery at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery until it was moved to the Booth Museum in 1975. 

It is possible that further information about his collection can be obtained from the Booth Museum archives which hold Lucas’ original catalogue. At this stage, it can be confirmed that he did not collect the Toi moko himself and therefore purchased these items from another collector.

His date of birth, 1842, indicates that he would have purchased the Toi moko well after the trade was active in New Zealand. It is quite possible that he purchased it at auction perhaps following the death of its previous owner.