WEBSTER, W. D. Illustrated Catalogues of Ethnographical Specimens, Numbers 2 and 5 to 31. Catalogue of Ethnographical Specimens, European and Eastern Arms and Armour, Prehistoric and other Curiosities, on Sale by W. D. Webster, Oxford House, Bicester, Oxon, Eng. 1895 – 1901.
The twenty-eight parts bound in four volumes, Parts 2 and 5 to 17 bound in half calf (with parts 7 and 9 loosely inserted). Parts 18 to 31 in the publisher’s red cloth in three volumes. (1). 20, 20, 20, 16, 20, 20, 20, 16, 17, 17, 16, 16, 17, 16 pp. (2). Volume III. Nos. 18 to 23. 1pp. 76 collotype plates with 50pp. of descriptions. (3). Volume IV. Nos. 24 to 27. 1pp. 72 collotype plates with 27pp. of descriptions. (4). Volume V. Nos. 28 to 31. 1pp. 80 collotype plates with 35pp. of descriptions. William Downing Webster (1868 – 1913) became a collector and dealer in the early 1890’s. He was the first dealer in England to produce catalogues of ethnographic art. In June 1895 he produced his first illustrated catalogue and these continued until 1901, although in that year he only produced three catalogues. The first seventeen parts were bi-monthly catalogues of ethnographica, illustrated by Webster’s careful line-drawings; the remaining issues were illustrated with collotype plates of photographs of the pieces. It is felt that he stopped producing his catalogues as he had obtained sufficient publicity to be able to continue as a dealer without the expense of issuing his catalogues. Webster was eleven years older that William Ockelford Oldman and his mentor, the first Oldman catalogue was produced in the following year, 1902. All these catalogues were formerly the property of H. G. Beasley, the first of these volumes is half calf with a red leather label and the ‘Beasley Collection’ bookplate dated 1916. It is interesting to note that even Beasley could not procure a complete set of these catalogues. Indeed the two loose catalogues which are not bound-in, numbers 7 and 9 have purchase dates of 1929 and 1920 respectively. The next three volumes are in red cloth lettered in gilt to the spines and upper boards and each have Beasley’s signature to the front end-paper. There are several annotations by Beasley in a neat black ink through these volumes. A page loosely inserted has a rubbing by Beasley of a Maori Ta-Honga initiation stick with a description on the verso. Harry Geoffrey Beasley (1881-1939) was the important English collector and scholar who in 1928 created the Cranmore Ethnographical Museum.