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Department for Culture Media and Sport

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Last chance to save cabinet containing maps used to teach George III's children

149/06

A temporary export bar has been placed on a cabinet containing dissected maps used as teaching aids for King George III’s children by Culture Minister David Lammy.  This provides a last chance to raise the money to keep this early example of imaginative teaching methods in the United Kingdom. 

 

A temporary export bar has been placed on a cabinet containing dissected maps used as teaching aids for King George III’s children by Culture Minister David Lammy.  This provides a last chance to raise the money to keep this early example of imaginative teaching methods in the United Kingdom. 

The Minister’s ruling follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, run by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. The Committee recommended that the export decision be deferred on the grounds that the cabinet is of outstanding significance for the study of the origins of the jigsaw puzzle.

The mahogany cabinet contains dissected maps, which are engraved and mounted on wood.  There is a manuscript note pinned inside the cabinet which claims that the cabinet belonged to Lady Charlotte Finch, governess to the children of George III, and that she used it to teach the children geography.  Two of these children were the future George IV and William IV.  The maps are among the earliest surviving examples of jigsaw puzzles and offer potential for further research into the origin of the jigsaw puzzle.

The decision on the export licence application for the cabinet containing the dissected maps will be deferred for a period ending on 26 January 2007 inclusive. This period may be extended until 26 April 2007 inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds with a view to making an offer to purchase the cabinet containing dissected maps at the recommended price of £120,000 (excluding VAT) is expressed.

Anyone interested in making an offer to purchase the cabinet containing dissected maps should contact the owner’s agent through:

The Secretary
The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest
Museums, Libraries and Archives Council,
Victoria House,
Southampton Row
London WC1B 4EA

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Notes to Editors

1. Media enquiries on the operation of and casework arising from the work of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) should be directed to MLA Media Relations Manager, Anne Marie Todaro, on 020 7273 1472, or by email annemarie.todaro@mla.gov.uk

2. The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest is an independent body, run by MLA, which advises the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on whether a cultural object, intended for export, is of national importance under specified criteria. Where the Committee finds that an object meets one or more of the criteria, it will normally recommend that the decision on the export licence application should be deferred for a specified period. An offer may then be made from within the United Kingdom at or above the fair market price.

3. Pictures of this item are available. Please email Anne Marie Todaro  -  annemarie.todaro@mla.gov.uk (MLA no longer subscribes to the PixMedia website service)

4. Lady Charlotte Finch (1725-1813) became governess to the children of George III in 1762 and held the post for thirty years.  She was an innovative educationalist and was described by Horace Walpole (when aged 15) as the ‘cleverest girl in the world’.

5. Jill Shefrin’s book Such Constant Affectionate Care: Lady Charlotte Finch - Royal Governess & the Children of George III offers evidence that the cabinet contains the earliest surviving jigsaw puzzles.

6. The note pinned to the cabinet reads in full, “Cabinet belonging to Lady Charlotte Finch (sister to Lady Juliana Penn) Governess to the children of George the Third.  She was the inventor of dissecting maps & those in this cabinet were expressly made for, & always used in teaching Geography to George the fourth, his Brothers & Sisters”.

7. John Spilsbury created the first commercially marketed dissected puzzles and some early states of his maps of Ireland and Scotland can be found in the cabinet.  The relationship between Lady Charlotte and John Spilsbury remains unclear and offers considerable potential for further research.

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