Sarah Sophia Banks

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Sarah Sophia Banks
Sarah Sophia Banks by Angelica Kauffman.png
Portrait by Angelica Kauffman
Born(1744-10-28)October 28, 1744
DiedSeptember 27, 1818(1818-09-27) (aged 73)
Known forCollections in the British Museum, British Library, and the Royal Mint Museum[1]
Scientific career

Sarah Sophia Banks (28 October 1744 – 27 September 1818)[2] was an English antiquarian collector and sister and collaborator of botanist Joseph Banks. She collected coins and medals and ephemera which are now historically valuable like broadsheets, newspaper clippings, visiting cards, prints, advertisements and playbills.[3][4][5][6][7]


She was born on 28 October 1744 at 30 Argyll Street in Soho, London[8] the daughter of William Banks, the Member of Parliament for Grampound, and his wife Sarah.[2][9]

She "discussed questions of plant biology with her brother..." and "...influenced him greatly."[10] Many "of her ideas made their way into his writings [and she] also provided valuable support by recopying and editing the entire manuscript of Banks' Newfoundland voyage (published 1766)."[10]


Her varied collections were left to her brother and sister-in-law who presented them to the British Museum and the Royal Mint Museum.[1][3][4][5][6][7] Her coin collection is now divided between the British Museum and the Royal Mint, while her prints are housed between the British Museum and British Library. The rediscovery of her scrapbook on the London Monster, a man who attacked dozens of women 1788–90, led directly to Jan Bondeson's book on the subject in 2000.


Further reading[edit]

  • Catherine Eagleton, "Collecting African money in Georgian London: Sarah Sophia Banks and her collection of coins", Museum History Journal, vol. 6, no. 1, 2013, pp. 23–38.
  • Catherine Eagleton, "Collecting America: Sarah Sophia Banks and the 'Continental Dollar' of 1776", Numismatic Chronicle, vol. 174, 2014, pp. 293–301.
  • Arlene Leis, "Displaying Art and Fashion: Ladies' Pocket-Book Imagery in the Paper Collections of Sarah Sophia Banks", Konsthistorisk Tidskrift, vol. 82, no. 3, 2013, pp. 252–71.
  • Arlene Leis, "Ephemeral Histories: Social Commemoration of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars in the paper Collections of Sarah Sophia Banks" in Satish Padiyar, Phillip Shaw and Philippa Simpson (eds.) Visual Culture and the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, Routledge, London and New York, 2017, pp. 183–199.
  • Arlene Leis, "A Truly Interesting Collection of Visiting Cards and Co' in Toby Burrows and Cynthia Johnston (eds.) Collecting the Past:British Collectors and Their Collections 18th to the 20th Centuries (Routledge, 2019)
  • Anthony Pincott, "The Book Tickets of Sarah Sophia Banks", The Bookplate Journal, vol. 2, no.1, March 2004, pp. 3–30.


  1. ^ a b The Library of Sarah Sophia Banks, Royal Mint Museum
  2. ^ a b Gascoigne, John (2004). "Banks, Sarah Sophia". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/1301. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ a b Pincott, Anthony (March 2004), "The Book Tickets of Sarah Sophia Banks", The Bookplate Journal, 2 (1): 3–30
  4. ^ a b Eagleton, Catherine (2014), "Collecting America: Sarah Sophia Banks and the 'Continental Dollar' of 1776", Numismatic Chronicle (174): 293–301
  5. ^ a b Eagleton, Catherine (2013), "Collecting African money in Georgian London: Sarah Sophia Banks and her collection of coins", Museum History Journal, 6 (1): 23–38, doi:10.1179/1936981612z.0000000002, S2CID 162390003
  6. ^ a b Eagleton, Catherine (2013), The collections of Sarah Sophia Banks, Horncastle: Sir Joseph Banks Society
  7. ^ a b Leis, Arlene Carol (2013), Sarah Sophia Banks: Femininity, Sociability and the Practice of Collecting in Late Georgian England, vol. I, University of York
  8. ^ Thornbury, Walter (1878). "CHAPTER XXV. SOHO SQUARE AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD.". Old and New London: Volume 3 (British History Online ed.). London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin. pp. 184–196. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  9. ^ "BANKS, William (1719-61), of Revesby Abbey, Lincs". History of Parliament. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  10. ^ a b Lipscomb, Diana (1996). "Women in Systematics". Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics. 26: 323–341. doi:10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.26.1.323. JSTOR 2097210.
  11. ^ a b c d e "BANKS, Joseph (1665-1727), of Revesby Abbey, Lincs". The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754. Retrieved 3 January 2017.

External links[edit]