Thursday, February 1, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, February 1, 2001

Donald Hibbard Angus, collector of Pacific island art, dead at 94

By Bob Krauss
Advertiser Staff Writer

Donald Hibbard Angus, one of Hawaii’s most important collectors of Hawaiian and Pacific island art, died Jan. 28 at age 94. He was born in the Kewalo section of Kakaako in 1908 at the home of his grandmother.

Angus’ discoveries are in the Peabody Museum of Salem, Mass., the American Legation Museum in Tangiers, Morocco, the Byzantine Collections at Boston Public Library, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the Bishop Museum and the Hamilton Library at the University of Hawaii.

"He was a discoverer committed to seeing that things went to institutions," said Lynn Davis, head of preservation at the Hamilton Library. "He carefully annotated things. It increases the historical value enormously. He was very professional."

Angus began collecting in London in the 1930s, sleuthing for historical documents about the Pacific. Later he turned his attention to botanical prints.

As late as 1995, he donated an assemblage of more than 1,360 botanical illustrations from the 16th through 19th centuries to the Bishop Museum. The oldest print dated to 1574.

After attending Punahou School, Angus entered the University of California at Los Angeles in the 1920s.

Later he traveled to London, where he stayed for 12 years and began his serious collecting. He haunted bookstores that specialized in old works, as well as museums and government records offices, looking for rare documents relating to Hawaii and the Pacific.

His first major find was the 18th century journal kept by James Colnett, an early Pacific fur trader.

Over the years, Angus supported himself by driving an ambulance during World War II and acting as a photographer’s model. Every spare cent went to buy manuscripts and original art work.

He lived mostly in Honolulu during the latter part of his life.

Angus is survived by cousins June Walker of Los Angeles and Howard Lionel Grace of Fresno, Calif.; and close friends Frederick Johnston of Santa Barbara, Calif., and Jim and Doric Little of Pupukea.

There will be no memorial service. Donations may be made in Angus’ memory to the University of Hawaii Foundation for the Hamilton Library preservation department, 2550 The Mall, Honolulu, HI 96822, or the Donald Angus Garden Memorial Fund, Friends of Honolulu Botanical Gardens, 200 North Vineyard Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96817.

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