Younger detectorists will probably only know Richard Hattatt by a reference to him when they come to record their find on a database, but his contribution to the hobby cannot be underestimated.
Richard died in 1992, at the age of 82. He’d had a lifetime devotion and study and collection of antiquities, but his interest finally focused on brooches and, with the help of detectorists, he rapidly built an important collection. However, he was rather disappointed with the lack of easily obtainable reference books and this promoted him to write his own.
Ten years before his death, he published, at his own expense, Ancient and Romano-British Brooches. By 1984 he concentrated all his efforts on brooches. His second book, Iron Age and Roman Brooches was published in 1985, followed by Brooches of Antiquity in 1987.
All his books are entirely illustrated with his own illustrations and the final one Ancient Brooches and Other Artefacts, published in 1989, contained drawings of his entire collection. This esoteric catalogue, ‘the Bible of fibula brooch collecting’, is the one used by many dealers to ID all their brooch and fibula sales, but went out of print until Oxbow books reprinted. It is available for about £18.00 and lower if you look carefully and prepared to buy second-hand.
Richard decided that he could do no more and disposed of his collection. many choice pieces found a home at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Devizes Museum. Some of the rest went to dealers and the balance to Sotheby’s saleroom in 1992.
Interesting Facts About Richard Hattatt
After a public school education, specialising in science, he joined the family firm of jam makers. The company closed down after the war and he then started an advertising company, which ran successfully until his retirement in the seventies.
In 1973 he started a collection of Greek vases and an hitherto unknown Greek vase painter of the 6th century BC was named after him. Following an exhibition at the Ashmolean, which included the ‘Hattatt’ painter’s vase, he generously donated it to the museum.
He wrote several learned articles on his vases and was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He sold his entire collection in 1982 … and started to collect brooches. from The Searcher magazine January 1993