Picture : Lorne Campbell / Guzelian
Archive photo of James R Ogden (rleft) , who valued Tutankhamun’s gold. , part of ‘Egyptomania’ marking 100 years since the opening of the tomb, and the 130th anniversary of the family jewellery business.
The exhibition is located in the Edwardian shop premises on James Street in the centre of the spa town.
It features never before seen letters of key characters from important archaeological digs, including Howard Carter, who discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb, and Katharine and Leonard Woolley, pioneering archaeologists working on sites who discovered the city of Ur (CORRECT), now known as Mesopotamia.


Harrogate Celebrates Links to Archaeology’s Golden Age

A new exhibition, ‘Egyptomania’ is being hosted at Ogden of Harrogate to celebrate 130 years of the family jewellers, and their remarkable links to Tutankhamun on the 100th anniversary of the tomb’s discovery.

James R Ogden founded his jewellery business in 1893, which required him to travel widely to obtain beautiful jewels, for which the business became renowned.

When Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb, he invited Ogden to the Valley of the Kings to value and weigh the gold, including Tutankhamun’s coffin. The Harrogate jeweller was one of the first people in over 3,000 years to enter the tomb.

He was fascinated with the spectacular finds of the day from the Middle East and this developed further into a deeper understanding of Archaeology.

Ogden of Harrogate continues to thrive under the direction of JR Ogden’s great, great grandsons Robert and Ben Ogden.

Robert Ogden said: “The history of our business is our corner-stone and we have recently been cataloguing our archive, where we have a vast collection of JR Ogden’s memorabilia, including a remarkable collection of 10,000 lantern slides of his travels to Tutankhamun’s tomb, and artefacts from his expeditions to Ur, Babylon, Palestine, Syria, and Assyria. There are also hundreds of letters that are fascinating glimpses of the key characters of that time, and their explorations.”

James R Ogden got to know Howard Carter, Lord Carnarvon, Max Mallowan (Agatha Christie’s second husband) and worked particularly closely with the archaeologists Leonard and Katharine Woolley.

Some of these artefacts and letters will be on display for the first time in the special exhibition.

It includes the previously unseen letters of Katharine Woolley, a pioneering female archaeologist, that are of particular interest, as on her death she asked that all her personal documents be destroyed.

James R Ogden became a collaborator and fundraiser for leading archaeologists of the day, including the Woolleys, using his knowledge of the working of gold to help interpret the material found at digs, and becoming a restorer and replica maker.

Ogden made many replicas of the artefacts found at Tutankhamun and Ur and donated them to the British Museum. He gave lectures showcasing his slides to fascinated audiences across the UK. The 1923 discovery of Tutankhamun captivated imaginations across the world.

The exhibition provides an insight into the social and political context in which archaeology was practiced at that time. JR Ogden collected hundreds of newspaper clippings about archaeological digs, some of which will also be on display.

Robert Ogden says: “The Ogden archive will be made available to historians for further study. Who can’t be captivated by the adventures of these pioneers of archaeology and the mysteries they discovered? Like fine jewels, there are no doubt more romantic and enchanting stories waiting to be unearthed.”

Egyptology, an expedition in three parts: Tutankhamun, Expeditions in Ur, and historic jewellery sales in the last 130 years, runs at Ogden of Harrogate on James Street, Harrogate, from 7-21 September.

Clair Challenor-Chadwick

Cause UK

0753 194 8014