Falcke, Isaac (DNB12)

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FALCKE, ISAAC (1819–1909), art collector and benefactor to the British Museum, born in 1819 at Yarmouth, was one of twenty children. His father removed to London soon after his son's birth and commenced business as an art dealer in Oxford Street, where in due course he was joined by his sons, David and Isaac. The business was eventually moved to New Bond Street (No. 92), and there before 1858 Isaac Falcke accumulated a comfortable fortune. Thenceforth he chiefly devoted himself to the study of art and to the collection of art treasures mainly for his own gratification. He soon formed a collection of majolica and lustre ware, which owing to some unfortunate investment he sold to a kinsman, Frederick Davis, a Bond Street dealer, who in his turn sold it to Sir Richard Wallace; it now forms part of the Wallace collection.

Falcke soon recovered his financial stability, and next bestowed his chief attention on bronzes of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which were bought by Dr. Bode of Berlin, where they form the nucleus of the splendid collection in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum.

Falcke was through life deeply interested in Wedgwood china, and he ultimately made a collection of Wedgwood ware which was unique. It was exhibited at the opening of the Crystal Palace in 1856, at South Kensington in 1862, at Leeds in 1868, at Bethnal Green in 1875-6-7, and at Burslem in 1893. This collection Falcke presented to the British Museum on 17 June 1909. It comprises about 500 pieces, and includes one of the few original copies of the famous Barberini or Portland vase and a basalt bust of Mercury by John Flaxman (see Guide to the English Pottery and Porcelain, British Museum, 1910, pp. 74-76).

A fourth collection, a small one of Chinese and other porcelain, with some good bronzes, Falcke retained till his death. It was sold at Christie's on 19 April 1910, and fetched the large sum of 37,769l. 5s. 6d.

Falcke died in London on 23 Dec. 1909, and was buried in the Jewish cemetery at Willesden.

He married on 13 May 1847 Mary Ann, daughter of James Reid, of Edinburgh, but left no children.

[Jewish Chronicle, 2 July 1909, 3 Dec. 1909; The Times, 29 Dec. 1909, 20 April 1910; Frederick Litchfield, Pottery and Porcelain, 1905; private information.]

M. E.