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John Gipkyn, Diptych of Old St. Paul's, 1616, Society of Antiquaries of London
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by Walter Robinson

Just what is an antiquary? A clue is provided by an 1812 colored engraving by George Cruikshank, which shows a crowded meeting of the London Society of Antiquaries in comic disarray, the unheeded chairman waving his arms about and brandishing a paper that may well be marked with a Regency-era version of “kiss my ass.” Various members nap or avidly compare notes, and one of them examines a pseudo-classical bust said to represent his Jamaican mistress. In the center of the table sits an assortment of derelict items, including a coal scuttle labeled “ancient shield” and a pig trough marked “Roman sarcophagus.” 


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