Skip to content

Poole, Reginald Stuart

    Full Name: Poole, Reginald Stuart

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1832

    Date Died: 1895

    Place Born: London, Greater London, England, UK

    Place Died: Kensington, Kensington and Chelsea, London, England, UK

    Home Country/ies: United Kingdom

    Subject Area(s): Ancient Greek (culture or style), coins (money), Early Western World coins, metal, metalwork (visual works), metalworking, and numismatics

    Career(s): curators


    Keeper of Coins, British Museum, 1870-1893, early exponent of the relationship to Greek art to coinage. Poole was born to Reverend Edward R. Poole (c. 1805-1884) and Sophia Lane (Poole) (1804-1891), the latter a grand niece of Thomas Gainsborough. His mother left his father in 1842 because of his bibliomania and alcoholism. Poole was subsequently raised by his mother and uncle, Edward W. Lane (1801-1876), the eminent Orientalist, accompanying them the same year to Egypt where Edward was assembling an Arabic dictionary. The younger Poole spent seven years in Egypt, mostly in Cairo, tutored by a family friend and studying the region. Not yet 17, he contributed a series of articles on Egyptian chronology to the Literary Guide between 1847-1848. These were published in 1851 under the patronage of Algernon Percy, the fourth Duke of Northumberland (1792-1865), who was also the patron of his uncle’s lexicon. The Duke recommended the younger Poole to a position of first-class assistant (lower section) in the department of antiquities at the British Museum in 1852, where Poole immediately began lecturing. In 1858 he was charged to rewrite and issue catalogs on the ancient coin collections of the Museum. He collaborated with his mother on a series of descriptions for the book Egypt, Sinai, and Jerusalem: a Series of Twenty Photographic Views by the photographer Francis Frith (1822-1898), published 1860-1861. When the keeper of the department of antiquities, Edward Hawkins, (1780-1867) retired in 1861, the department was divided and Poole assigned to the new department of coins and medals and Samuel Birch (1813-1885) appointed the keeper of the department of oriental antiquities. By 1864 Poole was delivering lectures at the Royal Institute on his recurring theme: the relationship of Greek coinage to Greek art. Among those who acknowledged his findings as important were the classicist Adolf Furtwängler. He married Eliza Christina Forlonge in 1863. In 1866 Poole was appointed Assistant Keeper of Coins at the Museum and in 1870, Keeper, succeeding William Sandys Wright Vaux (1818-1885). Poole changed the department precedent by overseeing the publication of catalogs of the coin collection. Some sixteen catalogs appeared over the twenty-two years of his tenure, beginning in 1873, authored by himself and other scholars including Percy Gardner. Poole received an honorary doctorate from Cambridge for his work. In 1869-1870 he returned to Egypt for a research trip. In 1885, Poole succeeded his friend and colleague Charles T. Newton (1816-1894) as Yates chair of archaeology at University College, Cambridge. Poole never relinquished his interest in Egyptology. In 1882 he helped found the Egypt Exploration Fund and in 1884 the Society of English Medalists with the Egyptologist Amelia B. Edwards (1831-1892). In later years he harbored deep animosities toward several colleagues. Jealous of Birch’s position as head of Oriental archaeology and the latter’s emphasis on Assyriology, Poole accused Birch of preventing Poole’s succession the the Department of Oriental Antiquities. Poole’s championing of Edouard Naville (1844-1926) over the much higher profile Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) as archaeologist for the Egypt Exploration Fund resulted in Petrie’s blaming Poole for mishandling the Fund. He retired in 1894 and his dream, a separate medal room for the Museum, was completed the same year. In retirement, Poole contributed the article on numismatics to the 8th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. He died of a heart ailment at his West Kensington home. His nephews carried on the family tradition of scholarship; Stanley Lane-Poole (1854-1931) was a professor of Arabic at Trinity College, Dublin, and Reginald Lane Poole (1857-1939), was Keeper of the Archives at Oxford University.

    Selected Bibliography

    and Frith, Francis, and Poole, Sophia Lane. Egypt, Sinai, and Jerusalem: a Series of Twenty Photographic Views. London : William Mackenzie, 1860, and Cairo, Sinai, Jerusalem, and the Pyramids of Egypt. London: J. S. Virtue, 1860; A Catalogue of the Greek Coins in the British Museum: Italy. London: Woodfall and Kinder, 1873; and Head, Barclay Vincent. Catalogue of Greek Coins: Macedonia, etc. London: British Museum, 1879; and Lane-Poole, Stanley. Coins and Medals; their Place in History and Art. London: British Museum,1885; and Keary, Charles Francis, and Grueber, Herbert A. A Catalogue of English Coins in the British Museum. Anglo-Saxon Series. London: British Museum, 1887-93; and Head, Barclay Vincent. Catalogue of Greek Coins. Attica-Megaris-Aegina. London: British Museum, 1888; Catalogue of Greek Coins: Corinth, Colonies of Corinth, etc. London: British Museum, 1889.


    Shakira Hussein, personal correspondence, 2008; Caygill, M. L. “Poole, (Reginald) Stuart (1832-1895).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004; [obituary:] “Mr. Reginald Stuart Poole.” Times (London), February 9, 1895 p. 5; “Poole, Reginald Stuart.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 11th ed.


    "Poole, Reginald Stuart." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

    More Resources

    Search for materials by & about this art historian: