Isabella Banks – A Collection Full of Surprises!

Mrs George Linnaeus Banks by Elliott & Fry. Ref: R142286.

I am pleased to announce that the cataloguing of the Isabella Banks Collection of Objects and Photographs has finally been completed and is now available via Library Search.

The latest material to be catalogued contains a plethora of items, which are actually quite difficult to describe collectively. They include photographs, memorial cards, embroideries, paper cut outs and silhouettes. All of the items have links to Isabella Banks and her family.

The Collection arrived here in the Library as part of The Burney Collection. It was donated in 1975–77 and comprised a large number of printed items, but it also includes letters, notebooks and other objects associated with Mrs George Linnaeus Banks (1821–97), née Isabella Varley, the Manchester schoolmistress and authoress of The Manchester Man (1876), and her husband George Linnaeus Banks.

It has been a collection full of surprises as the objects cover such a vast array of subjects and are present in so many different forms. It’s not a huge surprise that boxes labelled as Isabella Banks material should prove to be so exciting and interesting. We have previously blogged about the unusual Isabella Banks relics here – ‘Burney’s Box of Delights’.

These recently catalogued objects reflect historical events that had an impact on the Bank’s household, for example there are some Splinters from the sunken Princess Alice, but also included are very personal items to the family, such as memorial cards, wedding announcements and birth certificates.

Splinters from the Princess Alice Ref: VOB.5.25
Splinters from the Princess Alice Ref: VOB.5.25

Other items in the collection are examples of activities the Bank’s family enjoyed, such as paper cutting. There are some amazingly intricate paper cut patterns and designs by George Linneaus Banks, the ones of plants are especially impressive. They are so surprising in their delicacy, quite amazing to think of that dexterity with a pair of scissors!

All images unless otherwise stated are copyright of the University of Manchester and can be used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike Licence.

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