This ink drawing in the King’s Topographical Collection depicts a small statue of the Roman god Mercury found in Colchester in the early 18th century. According to the inscriptions on a related print (Maps K.Top.13.14.l.), the sculpture first belonged to George Holmes (1661/2–1749), Keeper of the Records in the Tower of London and a member of the Society of Antiquaries. The annotation on the drawing and the inscription on the print both refer to the first director of the Society, the collector John Talman (1677–1726), as the likely draughtsman. The statue is illustrated in The History and antiquities of the county of Essex (London, 1748) by Philip Morant (1700–1770), who described it as 'A little brass Mercury’ belonging to the antiquary and collector of Roman artefacts George Scott (1720–1780).
- Article by:
- Rosemary Sweet
- Antiquarianism, Country
Writing local histories was a favourite hobby of many in the 18th century who had spare time, money, and a desire to find out more about their towns and country. Rosemary Sweet examines some of the motivations of local historians and the usefulness of their work for historians today.