Material History and Ritual Objects: George Blake Dexter’s The Lure of Amateur Collecting

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Edited and Introduced by Devin Proctor

From the original 1923 front cover: “The habit of collecting is one that yields the greatest delight to its possessor, since the collector goes through the world always on the watch for the beautiful and rare. Mr. Dexter mounted the hobby as a child, and through many years of travel through many countries he has gratified it as occasion presented itself, until now he has a beautiful and unique collection, including articles of furniture, porcelain, jewels, plate and souvenirs from celebrities. Each one was acquired as the result of some interesting encounter or experience, and this book tells the stories of these various art objects.”

As the original cover promises, this book follows the ‘gratifications’ of George Blake Dexter, wealthy hobbyist and world traveller. Equally problematic and charming, Dexter’s adventures of acquisition take readers into a world of passionate collecting available to a privileged few. Whether seen as acts of addiction, empire, or merely of entertaining distraction, Dexter’s experiences are the crystallization of a cultural moment in a time too often forgotten