Sunday 17 June 2018

Donald Bailey (1931-2014)

Donald Michael Bailey, a major force in the field of lychnology, was one of my heroes when I was a kid. I would buy Roman lamps in antiques markets and I regularly took my latest purchase to the British Museum for his opinion. You'd think he would get sick of seeing this pestering nuisance but instead he always gave me a warm welcome. Perhaps he was glad to see my youthful enthusiasm. He was gentle and modest but seemed delighted to impart some of his encyclopedic knowledge when eagerly questioned.

We were last in touch about ten years ago. I realised he was getting on and may have passed away since then. But it was still a sad shock to come across the obituary in the Guardian by sheer chance and see his death confirmed.

It gives me pleasure that I still have all the lamps that he examined for me - all apart that is from the occasional dud that he good-naturedly chided me for, saying I should have known better with a twinkle in his eye. I soon learned to discriminate and I consider myself extremely lucky to have had him as a mentor in a pursuit that has given me enormous enjoyment in my life.



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