Anthony North, arms and armour scholar: papers

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 1807 NORTH
  • Dates of Creation
      c. 1970 - c. 2012
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      5 boxes

Scope and Content

Papers created and accumulated by North whilst undertaking arms and armour research: includes correspondence, photographs and drafts of publications. Also includes papers relating to societies North was a member of and some personal papers and effects.

Administrative / Biographical History

Anthony North (1942-2012) was born in Blackpool. His father, Richard, was a BBC war correspondent. North attended Blackpool Grammar School and when 16 attended the Corbridge summer school at Hadrian’s Wall where he was taught archaeology by John Gillam of Kings College, Newcastle Upon Tyne. North was particularly impressed by Gillam being able to date Roman pottery by touch and on his return to school took greater interest in his Latin and Greek studies. The death of his father prevented him for going to University and on finishing school North helped his mother run her coach company.

In 1964 North decided to join the V&A, he took the train to London and was given a job in the V&A’s Circulation department which organised touring exhibitions. He soon moved to the Metalwork department and remained there for the rest of his career, becoming a specialist in arms, armour and base metalwork and is responsible for producing catalogue records for metalwork from all over the world. He was especially gifted in identifying the differences between genuine, altered and faked objects and was always encouraging to younger scholars.

In 1969 he undertook a museums diploma, writing his thesis on ‘The identification of 17th-Century Swords and Daggers of English Origin’ where he concentrated on hilt forms. During his time at the V&A he produced a number of publications which reveal his skills in identifying and linking up previously unknown metalwork and his knowledge of restoration and conservation. His published works include: ‘Guns and Gunsmiths’ (1978), ‘Islamic Arms’ (1986), and ‘Pewter at the Victoria and Albert Museum’ (1999).

He retired from the V&A in 2002 but continued to provide advice at the museum’s opinion service as well as vetting treasures at London art fairs. He was an active member of several societies being a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, secretary of the Meyrick Society and chairman of the Antique Metalware Society. In 2010 he was awarded the gold medal of the Arms and Armour Society. On his death in June 2012 North left a substantial legacy to the Arms and Armour Society to encourage the study of his favourite subject.

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