Jet carved to resemble a fossil fish

Fossil hunting was a popular Victorian past time. Turning this hobby into a successful business required good local knowledge and a lot of good luck.

Edward Simpson apprenticed to the geologist Dr George Young. First he worked as a fossil collector but later (around 1843) turned his hand to forgery. Forging an item such as fossil, piece of pottery or a flint arrowhead was much easier than finding a real one. Simpson gained a variety of nicknames. ‘Flint Jack’ is probably them most well known. Other names include Fossil Willy, Old Antiquarian, Cockney Bill, Bones, Shirtless, Edward Jackson, John Wilson and Jerry Taylor.

Curious like this fake fossil were popular souvenir purchases. This fish is carved in jet, probably from Whitby near where Simpson lived. Some of Simpson’s pottery and ceramics even fooled museums. Simpson was found out and imprisoned for his crimes.

This specimen was given to RAMM by Dr EN Young - Dr George Young’s son. the label on the back appears to read ‘Talle soris found in the the coal formation’

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
68/1926/4
Collection Class
Fossils
Collection Area Region
Northern Europe
Collector Excavator
Simpson, Mr Edward (also known as Flint Jack)
Common Name
jet carved to resemble a fossil fish
Simple Name
fossil
Period Classification
Victorian (1837-1901)
Production Person Initials
Edward
Production Person Surname
Simpson; ‘Flint Jack’
Production Year Low
1845
Production Year High
1890

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jet carved to resemble a fossil fish