Thomas Layton collected books, coins, and archaeological items (usually described as ‘antiquities’) for 70 years. In that time he had accumulated what has been described as “probably the largest collection of London antiquities ever amassed by a single individual”.
The vast majority of items are believed to have been bought at auctions. Some came to him from his men working on the river. His businesses provided opportunities for finds from dredging, building of bridges and embankments along the banks of the Thames, for which Layton paid good money. Even by the standards of the day Layton kept poor records of where items were found. Despite this, the collection is considered highly important particularly to archaeologists and pre-historians.
Archaeology & Ethnography
5,200 archaeological and ethnographic artifacts including items from UK, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Peru and N. America.
Medals and Coins
A remarkable collection of 3,500 coins, tokens and medals - Roman, Greek, Indian, American and British.
Maps and Prints
4,000 maps and prints and 150 framed prints, maps and paintings.
Books & Manuscripts
8,000 from the 16th century to 19th century, remain in the collection, together with a small collection of manuscripts and some of Layton's personal papers.