The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 1, January 6, 2008, Article 6


Charles Davis writes: "In the December 23 E-Sylum, you
published a notice on the new work by Graham Pollard on
Renaissance Medals in the National Gallery. Regrettably
I received the below note that he passed away two weeks ago.

 Graham Pollard died Monday December 17 after a relatively
 short illness - a malignant brain tumour was diagnosed
 in September.  His wife Maria died three weeks earlier
 (25 Nov) after a long battle with cancer.  There will be
 a joint funeral sometime in mid-January. An obituary of
 him appears in The Independent"

[Here are some excerpts from Pollard's obituary, written
by Dr. Mark Blackburn, Head of the Department of Coins and
Medals at the Fitzwilliam Museum. -Editor]

John Graham Pollard, numismatist, museum curator and civic
campaigner: born Gillingham, Kent 25 December 1929; Keeper
of Coins and Medals, Fitzwilliam Museum 1966-88, Deputy Director
1969-88; Fellow, Wolfson College, Cambridge 1967-97 (Emeritus),
Librarian 1980-95; married 1963 Maria Seri (died 2007; one son);
died Cambridge 17 December 2007.

Graham Pollard was the leading authority on Italian Renaissance
medals in the post-war period. He will be best remembered as
the author of the multi-volume catalogues of two of the greatest
collections in the world, those of the Bargello Museum in
Florence and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. But
as a curator of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge  whose coin
and medal collection he did much to enhance  his influence
was far wider, as he shared his knowledge and judgement with
students, scholars, collectors and dealers.

He registered for a London University external degree in
Geography, but had to abandon it in 1948 when he was called
up for National Service. On his return in 1950, he was appointed
a Museum Assistant and assigned to the Coin Room to work under
Harold Shrubbs. With encouragement from the museum's director,
Carl Winter, he decided to apply to Cambridge University to
read History, and rapidly taught himself sufficient Latin to
pass the entrance exam, entering Pembroke College in 1951.
He continued to work part-time for the Fitzwilliam during
the first two years of his degree, and was given leave for
the third. On graduating in 1954 he was appointed Junior
Assistant Keeper, and promoted to Keeper of Coins and Medals
in 1966 and Deputy Director in 1969.

Pollard's interest in medals had been fired by chance soon
after arriving in Cambridge. In a fire-sale at an antique shop
he saw a tin bath containing several hundred medals, and hastened
home to borrow money from his father to buy them. The Italian
connection came somewhat later and for a different reason. His
first trip, in 1957, was with a group of friends wanting to
look at Italian architecture, and he was bowled over by the
experience. On a subsequent trip, in 1961, he went with Jack
Trevor in search of fossils at the mine of Bacinello in southern
Tuscany. In the nearby town of Grosseto he met a young
schoolteacher, Maria Seri, who two years later would become
his wife.

Renaissance Medals was due to be published in January 2008 and
launched in Washington with an international symposium, but
when last September Pollard was diagnosed with terminal cancer,
the production was accelerated, so that in October an advance
copy was couriered to Cambridge in time for him to appreciate
it. This massive catalogue of two volumes, running to more than
1,100 pages, is truly the crown to a distinguished numismatic career.

He and Maria were a devoted couple, and his final illness,
though short, was heart-rending, as she herself was battling
with the terminal stages of a cancer, which took her just three
weeks before him.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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