The Oliver Collection was given this name because it originally belonged to the late Sydney Oliver who bequeathed it in trust to the S.A Oliver Charitable Settlement. The Collection is in two sections one of which is housed in Chertsey Museum and mostly consists of paintings, engravings, and artefacts, and the other section of which, consisting mostly of books, pamphlets, and documentary material, is housed in the University of London Library Depository, situated in the grounds of Royal Holloway (University of London) at Egham. This introduction relates to the latter section of the Collection.
Sydney Oliver was born in Shakespeare Cottage, Queens Road, Egham in 1905. When he left school he assisted his father in auction portering and from this beginning developed a life-long interest in the field of antique dealing, auctioneering, and collecting. As a result of his own personal studies and the experience he gained working with local auctioneers he acquired the knowledge and expertise which enabled him in due course to become a well known antique dealer, valuer, and organiser of auctions. In the process he developed a passion for private collecting, much of which was related to his strong interest in local history, particularly of Egham and neighbouring areas. Over the years his private collections of books, documents, pictures, costume, and various types of artefact reached huge proportions and most of them were eventually deposited in various institutions. Before his death in 1986 he arranged for these collections to be taken into trust (officially registered as the S.A. Oliver Charitable Settlement). One of these collections came to Royal Holloway where it was originally housed in the College Library prior to its eventual transfer to the University of London Library Depository. Additional items of local importance are from time to time purchased for inclusion in the Collection out of money left in the Oliver Trust by Sydney Oliver for this purpose. One of the most important and valuable additions, for example, was a 130 x 173cm manuscript plan in ink and colours drawn by Abraham and William Driver in 1805, entitled 'Plan of the Manor of Egham, with demesnes, commons and waste lands appertaining thereto in the county of Egham, belonging to the Crown'. This was purchased by the Oliver Trust in 1988 at a Sotheby's sale. Another example of an important recent adddition is the handwritten diary and letter book of the Countess of Morella covering the years 1820-1914. The Countess and her husband, Field-Marshall Ramon Cabrera, owned the Wentworth Estate.
The Collection is in two sections, one a sequence of classified by the Dewey Decimal Classification scheme, and the other consisting of 88 boxes containing nearly 11,000 archival records arranged in numerical order. The books cover a wide variety of subjects but with a substantial emphasis on topography, history, biography, literary works, and the fine arts. The archival section contains miscellaneous material to a large extent related to the local area (Egham, Staines, Chertsey, Windsor, etc) and neighbouring towns and counties, and includes legal documents, house auction records, sale catalogues, manuscript letters, photographs, engravings, newspaper cuttings, maps, and a large collection of postcards (covering the late 19th century to recent times). The entire Collection was catalogued by Joan Wintour under the auspices of the S.A. Oliver Charitable Settlement.
The Oliver Trust purchased a display cabinet which was installed in Egham Museum where it is used to exhibit material from the Collection..
Access to the Collection is currently under review.
Updated – 18 January 2018