ANTIQUARY, a person who devotes himself to the study of ancient learning and "antiques," i.e. ancient objects of art or science. The London Society of Antiquaries was formed in the 18th century to promote the study of antiquities. As early as 1572 a society had been founded by Bishop Matthew Parker, Sir Robert Cotton, William Camden and others for the preservation of national antiquities. This body existed till 1604, when it fell under suspicion of being political in its aims, and was abolished by James I. Papers read at their meetings are preserved in the Cottonian library and were printed by Thomas Hearne in 1720 under the title A Collection of Curious Discourses, a second edition appearing in 1771. In 1707 a number of English antiquaries began to hold regular meetings for the discussion of their hobby and in 1717 the Society of Antiquaries was formally reconstituted, finally receiving a charter from George II. in 1751. In 1780 George III. granted the society apartments in Somerset House, Strand. The society is governed by a council of twenty and a president who is ex officio a trustee of the British Museum. The present headquarters of the society are at Burlington House, Piccadilly.
The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland was founded in 1780, and has the management of a large national antiquarian museum in Edinburgh. In Ireland a society was founded in 1849 called the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, holding its meetings at Kilkenny. In 1869 its name was changed to the Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland, and in 1890 to the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, its office being transferred to Dublin. In France La Société Nationale des Antiquaires de France was formed in 1814 by the reconstruction of the Acadêmie Celtique, which had existed since 1805. The American Antiquarian Society was founded in 1812, with its headquarters at Worcester, Mass. It has a library of upwards of 100,000 volumes and its transactions have been published bi-annually since 1849. In Germany the Gesamtverein der Deutschen Geschichtsund Altertumsvereine was founded in 1852. La Société Royale des Antiquaires du Nord at Copenhagen is among the best known of European antiquarian societies.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)