Leopold Agar Denys Montague was born in Exeter in 1861. Aged 17 he joined the army. He served with the Sherwood Foresters regiment and during World War I trained recruits for home defence. He retired from the army as a Lieutenant Colonel and married in 1886. From his home in Crediton, Montague played a prominent part in local affairs and created his own private museum.
Leopold Montague collects
Montague amassed an impressive collection of antiquities from Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Near East, consisting of seals, engraved gems, amulets, ceramics and bronzes. He acquired these through dealers, auction houses and other collectors, and wrote a regular column the ‘The Collector’s Room’ for The Bazaar, Exchange and Mart. He also became involved in the committees organising the first scientific excavations in Devon and Exeter in the 1930s.
Although archaeology was a major interest for Montague, he also wrote illustrated verse for children and collected ethnographic pieces. His best-known book is Weapons and Implements of Savage Races published in 1921. It explains why he collected the artefacts he did. Some of the items illustrated in this book are present at RAMM today. The book’s title reflects racist beliefs that were widespread among colonial authorities and businesses of that time.
On his death in 1940, Leopold Agar Denys Montague left his collection of about 800 pieces to RAMM.