Dr George Henry Abbott contributed a remarkable 25 years as a Trustee of the Australian Museum.

Recently the Museum Archives was asked to provide information about Dr G H Abbott – an Australian Museum Trustee from 1917 to 1943 – a remarkable 25 years.

Ancient Egyptian earthenware funerary cone dated at 350 BCE.
The inscription, written in heiroglyphs, reads 'For the priest of Amen, Lord of Karnak, Shepmeth, the son of Hekebe'. Funerary cones were set into the space above the entrance to a tomb. They were inscribed with the name of the deceased so that he or she retained their identity in the afterlife. Image: Australian Museum
© Australian Museum

An examination of the Australian Museum Trust Minutes showed that Dr George Henry Abbott, a surgeon, was elected as a Trustee on the 2nd of March, 1917 because of his “general scientific knowledge, and more particularly as applied to Numismatics”.

In the 1942 Trust Minutes it is noted “The President referred to the loss suffered by the Trustees in the death on 7th November of Dr Abbott who had been an elective Trustee since 1917. Trustees stood for a brief period in respect of his memory”.

Line drawing of Ancient Egyptian earthenware funerary cone
Line drawing of Ancient Egyptian earthenware funerary cone dated at 350 BCE. Image: Australian Museum
© Australian Museum

It comes as no surprise that the year after his death his wife donated two collections to the Australian Museum. One small collection consisted of 5 ancient coins and the second more considerable collection, contained 119 Ancient Egyptian, Greek & Roman objects.

The Numismatic Collection (coins) has subsequently been transferred to the Powerhouse Museum, while the other ancient Egyptian artefacts (currently on loan to Macquarie University) remain part of the Australian Museum’s collection.

This noteworthy contribution to the development of Australia’s oldest Museum by a Trustee will not be seen again in the foreseeable future as current Trustees can only serve a maximum of 9 years.