Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)MBS
TitleMonumental Brass Society Collection
Extent60 linear metres
Datelate 19th century-21st century

This collection comprises the official archives of the Society which include minutes and other administrative records and copies of its publications, together with rubbings and other forms of copies made of monumental brasses and indents, incised slabs and other funerary monuments made by its members and presented to the Society.

The biggest collection of rubbings is the J. Roger Greenwood Collection which comprises not only his own rubbings but those of others, principally Keith Train, Ann Hudson, the Williams family (father and son), William Gibson and Malcolm Norris. The collection also includes some continental rubbings by Adrian Baird. There are approximately 6,400 rubbings in this collection and they are all folded. The collection is also complemented by Greenwoods own notebooks.

Two other valuable collections of rubbings have also been deposited. The Grimes family collection, consisting of about 1,500 rubbings covering the whole country, are of an excellent quality. Many of these also show details of the slab in which the brass lies and are thus invaluable for showing any missing pieces. These are mostly rolled but there are some flat rubbings. The other significant collection is that of the late Stan Budd which covers the whole county of Warwickshire, the product of his work as controller for Warwickshire of the Mill Stephenson Revision, the first and only county to be published in that format. These rubbings are accompanied by his notebooks.

In addition, there is a small collection of framed rubbings from Ramsey in Cambridgeshire and a similar, small collection from Father Jack Pack and part of the collection of moulds and replicas created by Bryan Egan

Based on information kindly supplied by Jane Houghton, Honorary Archivist of the Society
ArrangementThe catalogue of this collection is ongoing and so far only the folded rubbings in the Greenwood Collection have been listed.

These have been catalogued as a single series (MBS/1) and then arranged into separate sub-series for each English counties (pre-1974) which are represented by three letters (according to the relevant British Standard). These sub-series are further subdivided by placename, represented by a running number in alphabetical order. Some placenames are further subdivided according to reflect the location of brasses (eg different churches, colleges etc). The counties for which catalogue records of the folded rubbings have been created are as follows: Buckinghamshire (BKM), Berkshire (BRK), Cambridgeshire (CAM), Cheshire (CHS), Cumbria (CMA), Derbyshire (DBY), Devon (DEV), Dorset (DOR), Durham (DUR), Hampshire (HAM), Herefordshire (HEF), Hertfordshire (HRT), Huntingdonshire (HUN), Isle of Wight (IOW), Lancashire (LAN), Leicestershire (LEC), Oxfordshire (OXF), Rutland (RUT), Shropshire (SHR), Somerset (SOM), Staffordshire STS), Warwickshire (WAR), Wiltshire (WIL), Worcestershire (WOR), and Yorkshire, West Riding (WYK).

Further series will be created and arranged in the same way for rolled rubbings (MBS/2), framed rubbings (MBS/3), moulds and resins (MBS/4)
Finding AidsNote to staff: see additional information in shared drive / catalogues and handlists
Access StatusOpen
Administrative HistoryThe Monumental Brass Society was founded in 1887 as the Cambridge University Association of Brass Collectors. It is a registered charity of which one of the principal objects is to promote the study of, and interest in, monumental brasses, indents and incised slabs.

Monumental brasses were commissioned and laid down in Britain and throughout mainland Europe as memorials to commemorate the deceased from the twelfth century onwards. They have long attracted attention for their beauty and historical interest and have often been studied to the detriment of contemporary forms of church monument. From the seventeenth century rubbings and impressions have been obtained from brasses but it was not until 1886 that Herbert Macklin (1866-1917), a Cambridge undergraduate, first began to attract a few kindred spirits to form a group which in the following year adopted the rather misleading title of the Cambridge University Association of Brass Collectors. By the end of the century the association had adopted the more appropriate name of the Monumental Brass Society (MBS) and although it continued to flourish in the early part of the twentieth century, its activities were suspended at the outbreak of the First World War.

The Society was eventually revived in 1934 and its publications were resumed. These included its 'Transactions' (a highly respected and learned journal) and the 'Portfolio' (large scale illustrations of brasses first published in 1893). Following the Second World War, the academic study of the subject broadened considerably and this saw a dramatic increase in membership. One new member was a young Oxford graduate, Malcolm Norris (1931-1995), who during the 1950s was the first to explore the brasses in the Iron Curtain countries. His contribution to scholarship was rewarded with his election as Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and his prolific writings culminated in 'Monumental Brasses' which appeared in the form of the two volume 'Memorials' (published in 1977) and the companion volume 'The Craft' (published in 1978). His work was also acknowledged with a Doctorate in Fine Arts of the University of Birmingham. Dr Norris was elected president of the MBS in 1992 and it was his long held ambition - that the Society and its archives should have a centre of permanence - which resulted in the collection being deposited here in the Special Collections Department at the University of Birmingham.

Source: Typescript written by Martin Stuchfield. Further information about the Society and its history and its activities can be found by following the link to the MBS's own website given at the bottom of this record.
AcquisitionFirst deposit made by the Society in 1997 and subsequent deposits have been made on a regular basis. Further accruals are expected.
Publication NoteFurther information about the Collection and about the progress of the cataloguing has been published in the magazine of Special Collections Department; see 'The Heslopian', Issue 1, Summer 2003


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