Hill, George Francis, Sir

Date born: 1867

Place born: Berhampur, India

Date died: 1948

Place died: London, United Kingdom

Director, British Museum, 1931-36 and specialist in renaissance medals. Hill’s grandfather, Micaiah Hill, founded the London Missionary Society’s outpost in Berhampur, India, where his father, Samuel John Hill, was stationed and where Hill was born. He attended Blackheath (later known as) Eltham College and then University College, London and finally Merton College. There he studied under Percy Gardner (q.v.), achieving firsts in his examinations of classical studies and who also instilled in him a love of numismatics. In 1893 he joined the British Museum in the department of Coins and Medals. At that time, the Department was the center of study of Greek coins. Hill continued the publishing work of Reginald Poole (q.v.) and Barclay V. Head (q.v.), issuing in 1897 the first volume of the important Greek coin catalog. In the next twenty-five years, Hill produced major catalogs on most areas of the museums holdings. He also edited the Journal of Helenic Studies. In 1912 he became Keeper of the Department. In 1924 he married Mary Paul (d. 1924), whose parents had settled in Rome. Hill’s family excursions deepened an interest in Italian art and painting. His work on Pisanello and his Corpus on Italian Medals before Cellini are in part the result of this influence. In 1931 he was appointed Director and principal librarian to the British Museum. As director, he purchase the Codex Sinaiticus fromt he Soviet Union and, together with the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Eumorfopoulus collection of Oriental antiquities. He was knighted in 1933. Hill retired in 1936, succeeded by the classicist John Forsdyke (q.v.). In retirement he wrote a history of Cypress, of which three volumes were completed before his death.

Home Country: United Kingdom

Sources: [obituary:] “Sir George Hill, Deep And Wide Learning.” The Times (London), October 20, 1948, p. 7.

Bibliography: Catalogue of the Greek Coins of Cyprus. London: British Museum, 1904; Catalogue of the Greek Coins of Lycaonia, Isauria, and Cilicia. London: British Museum, 1900; Catalogue of the Greek Coins of Lycia, Pamphylia, and Pisidia. London: British Museum, 1897; Catalogue of the Greek Coins of Palestine (Galilee, Samaria, and Judaea). London: British Museum/Longmans, 1914; Catalogue of the Greek Coins of Phoenicia. London: British Museum, 1910; A Guide to the Exhibition of Historical Medals in the British Museum. London: British Museum, 1924; Italian Medals of the Renaissance in the British Museum. 2 vols. London: British Museum, 1915; and Hicks, Edward Lee. A Manual of Greek Historical Inscriptions. Oxford: Clarendon press, 1901; A Corpus of Italian Medals of the Renaissance Before Cellini. 2 vols. London: British Museum, 1930; A Handbook of Greek and Roman Coins. New York: Macmillan, 1899 [numerous subsequent editions]; Historical Roman Coins: from the Earliest Times to the Reign of Augustus. London: Constable & Co., 1909; Pisanello. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1905; Renaissance Medals. volume 1 of Samuel H. Kress Collection of Renaissance Bronzes. Flushing, NY: Paul A. Stroock, 1960; and Reinach, Théodore. Les monnaies juives. Paris: E. Leroux, 1887, English: Jewish Coins. London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1903.