Book Chapter

Replication of things: the case for composite biographical approaches



Foster S (2018) Replication of things: the case for composite biographical approaches. In: Codell J & Hughes L (eds.) Replication in the Long Nineteenth Century: Re-makings and Reproductions. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 23-44.

For museums and international fairs across the world the production and exhibition of replicas of archaeological material was a very significant and serious enterprise in the long 19th century, particularly between the London Great Exhibition of 1851 and the First World War, after which these copies largely fell out of favour. Such replicas embed many stories and embody considerable past human energy. Behind their creation, circulation, use and after-life lies a series of specific social networks and relationships that determined why, when and in what circumstances they were valued, or not. Individuals, museums and skilled craftspeople strove to access, copy, multiply, share and sell the copies from the moulds that they made or commissioned. These resulting entanglements extended across and between many countries of the world. This paper considers the merits of a biographical approach to the study of replicas - as authentic things in their own right and as part of the composite biographies of the original and all its reproductions. It introduces different perspectives (diachronic, the massing of events, and collections-based), as exemplified by case studies from 19th-century Scotland, and offers brief reflections on the issues of value and authenticity that emerge from this.

Archaeological reproductions; facsimiles; plaster casts; cultural biography; early medieval; value; authenticity

FundersThe Henry Moore Foundation and The Henry Moore Foundation
Publication date31/05/2018
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Publisher URL…-century-hb.html
Place of publicationEdinburgh

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Professor Sally Foster
Professor Sally Foster

Professor, History

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