A Collector’s Life: The Story of Francis Buckley told with linked exhibitions at Gallery Oldham

By Wendy McGowan-Griffin | 24 January 2011 | Updated: 20 January 2011
a photo of a group of colourful ceramic vases
Ceramics from the collection of Francis Buckley© Courtesy of Gallery Oldham
Exhibition: A Collector’s life, The story of Francis Buckley, Gallery Oldham, Oldham, until May 2 2011

Gallery Oldham has opened its doors on a pair of linked exhibitions looking at the collections of two local men whose lives are separated by more than a century.

The remarkable and extensive historical collection of Francis Buckley, a Saddleworth man born in 1881, will be exhibited in the main gallery.

John Ogden will also show his intriguing collection of items with an Oldham link including glass bottles and street signs in the Community Gallery.

Buckley collected objects obsessively, including love tokens, watches, glass and Chinese ceramics, which he generously donated to local museums.

a black and white photograph of bespectacled man wearing a suit with a waistcoast and dicky bird and holding a pipe
Francis Buckley in the 1930s
Without formal training, his intellectual curiosity ran deep and he became an expert on a range of historical subjects that are highlighted in this collection.

He published extensively on English glass, including an Encyclopaedia Britannica entry on glass and others on English porcelain and medieval East Asian antiques.

Buckley’s interest in archaeology, particularly Mesolithic flint tools, was sparked by his discovery of flints while fighting in the trenches along the Western Front in the First World War.

His passion for "flinting" when he returned from the war would take him on 30-mile walks on the Pennine hills and moors. This resulted in one of the most important Mesolithic flint work collections ever assembled in Britain.

Notebooks and drawings of his excavations on Saddleworth Moor, which are on view in the exhibition, are still drawn upon by archaeology students today.

There will be a range of family activities on the theme of collecting, inspired by these exhibitions, on the weekend of January 29-30.

A "behind the scenes" tour of the museum stores will take place to view other items from Buckley’s collection on February 1 at 2pm, and a lunchtime talk and tour takes place on February 9 at 1pm.
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