Classics and Archaeology Virtual Museum

Jessie Webb Collection

Jessie Webb taught Ancient History in the History Department in the first half of the twentieth century.

She purchased coins for teaching purposes, through C.T. Seltman at Cambridge (Professor Scutt later availed himself of Seltman's services in acquiring the John Hugh Sutton Memorial Collection).

Jessie Webb was also instrumental in the purchase of casts, intended initially to decorate the new Arts building. The minutes of the Arts Faculty Meeting 11, 1925 (Minutes 8/10/25, page 366) include the following:

A communication from Professor Scutt and Acting Professor Webb to the Council asking for a grant towards obtaining casts of ancient statuary having been referred by the Council to the Faculty, it was resolved that the Faculty approves of the proposal to obtain the casts and to place them in the corridors of the Arts School.

In the Registrar's File (1925/139:) is a letter dated 23 Nov 1927 from the Registrar to Miss A Michaelis which refers to an enclosed letter from Miss Webb asking her to buy casts, plus a draft for £25 for cost and expenses. An undated note by FDM(ichaelis) observes in relation to a later order for casts: "These casts were ordered by Professor Skutt [sic] of the University, who had evidently got to hear of the shipments made recently for Miss Alice Michaelis, also in connection with the University Museum, and who had informed Professor Seltman that we had been able to ship them free of charge." In a letter dated 1 January 1929, Professor Scutt makes mention of two reproductions "already acquired for the Arts Building"; the identity of the casts ordered by Webb and sent via Michaelis is not known.

Jessie Webb also seems to have initiated support for Stewart's excavations in Cyprus. The Arts Faculty Minutes 1937 (1930-39 p. 296) include the following entry:

"Miss Webb made application that £50 sterling should be voted to Mr J Stewart, an Adelaide and Cambridge graduate excavating in Cyprus, who had undertaken, if he received that support, to forward to the University examples of all pottery uncovered by him. This request had, subject to ratification by the Faculty, been approved by the University Finance Committee, it being suggested that the amount might be made available from the Sutton Fund or from the Arts Apparatus account. Professor Scutt pointed out that, as Trustee of the Sutton Fund, he was unable to make such a grant and could only purchase pottery actually submitted for sale. [Scutt suggested approving the grant provided funds could be found other than from the Stutton Fund, but an amendment by Gunn was carried referring the request to Professorial Board.]".

The University received its a share of the finds from Stewart's 1956 and 1960 excavations in 1972 (the last of the pieces were delivered in 1998 during the Virtual Museum Project). Click here for further details of the Melbourne Cyprus Expedition.


Documents related to Webb Coin Collection (Registrar's file 1929/351)

Initial Purchase 1924.

30 April 1924.

Webb to Finance Committee. Request for £20-25 annually for a few years to purchase representative Greek and Roman coins. She notes that Seltman had written books on coins, part of which she had read in manuscript form. Seltman recently made lecturer at Cambridge, "was very highly thought of at the British School at Athens, and made an impression - not an altogether pleasant one - on Christodoulos, the most expert manufacturer of ancient coins in Greece." Professor Scutt approved.

14 May 1924.

Registrar to Webb. The Finance Committee "has gladly made a grant of £25 for the current year".

13 June 1924.

Registrar to Bank of Victoria. Please arrange £25 credit for Charles Seltman.

16 June 1924.

Bank of Victoria to Registrar. "Charles Seltman. We are in receipt of your letter of 13 instant re above and will instruct our London office accordingly. Please sign the enclosed advice … "

17 June 1924.

Registrar to Bank of Victoria. Enclosed is the signed advice.

17 June 1924.

Registrar to Charles Seltman, 24 Fulbrooke Rd Cambridge. "Miss Webb is placing with you an order for ancient coins which I understand you will secure as opportunity offers and forward to her." He informs Seltman that he has arranged for credit of £25, that he wanted invoices etc, and gave instructions for dealing with the banks…

4 Aug 1924.

Seltman to Registrar. Thanks for letter, the bank has notified me, will send something in a day or two.

Coin Cabinet

16 Feb 1925.

Demsey to Webb, details of mahogany cabinet for £9-10.

18 Feb [1925].

Webb to Registrar. Have a man to make cabinet for coins. Would the registrar deal direct with him as university will be paying.

19 Feb 1925.

Registrar to Demsey. Quote accepted, go ahead.

Second Purchase (1925)

21 April 1925.

Webb to Registar. I spent the £25. We have 33 coins, which students admire more for art than history! It is meant to be an annual grant, isn't it? So ask the Finance Committee for a second grant, please.

19 Sept 1925.

Registrar to Seltman. Another £25 credit has been set up. Bank follows up.

6 Jan 1926.

Webb to Registrar. Please order 200 coin holders from Morris & Walker in Flinders Lane @ 12/6 per hundred.

Third Purchase (1927)

15 Aug 1927.

Webb to Registrar. Ask Finance Committee for £10 now and £20 all up for this year.

25 Aug 1927.

Registrar to Webb. OK.

Fourth Purchase (1928)

16 Dec 1928.

Webb to Assistant Registrar. Can I have £5 for Seltman for Roman As (first issue)? I asked for it in 1927, but Seltman only just found it. I didn't ask for grant this year, usually get £20. (Request accompaniede by small coin envelope and round card inside with "ROME. As of first issue. £5")

3 Jan 1929.

Assistant Registar to Webb. Request granted.

Fifth Purchase (1929)

7 Jan 1929.

Webb to Finance Committee. Can I have £35 this year to get some expensive coins?

12 Feb 1929.

Registrar to Webb. Finance Committee gives £25 but asks you to consider the possibility of obtaining replicas.

1 July 1929.

Registrar to Seltman. Bank draft for £35 (sic).

16 Sept 1929.

Seltman to Registrar. I have £35 worth of coins ready. Same mail as this. "Enclosed is a set of index cards with brief descriptions of the coins and a list giving the price of each individual piece [handed to Miss Webb]. There are 20 coins and I am very pleased to have been able to secure for you the beautiful gold-stater of Lysimachus with the portrait of Alexander." Asks for acknowledgement of receipt.

22 Oct 1929.

Registrar to Seltman. Coins received.

Department Files

In the Department's files is a list of Webb coins. The list is probably in Seltman's hand, and it indicates the date of despatch for each batch of coins. The first page, however, is missing and has been replaced by a list in Professor H A K Hunt's hand. On the back are added additional coins, the first in Hunt's hand, later additions in the hands of John Carter and Peter Connor.

There is also another, much later, handwritten list of Webb coins recording the weight of each coin, possibly in George Gellie's hand.

Missing are the following coins mentioned on the Webb list: 18, 26, 30, 40, 43, 47, 48, 51, 57, 60, 61, 70, 73, 76, 77, 83, 88, 95, 96, 101. John Carter (in 1966) left cards labelled "missing" for all of these except 83; the card is probably lost, because 83 is also missing from the list of weights for the Webb collection.

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