The cataloguing of the collection is an ongoing process and because of this some of the data within the object records may not be as complete or as standardized as we would hope. In the meantime the most effective way to find specific types of objects is to use Advanced Search and combine a search for type with the country of origin.

Advanced Search

Advanced searching is conducted through a series of small search boxes revealed by clicking the 'Advanced Search' button.  The large unlabelled search box at the top remains a general search box and advanced search fields can be used in conjunction with this.

The advanced search boxes do not support boolean operators, wildcard operators, proximity operators, grouping or fuzzy searching.

Combining advanced search fields examples


Main search box: 'Musket', 'Rifle', 'Machine Gun'. This can be narrowed down using the form of ignition as a prefix e.g. 'Matchlock musket', 'Wheellock carbine', 'Flintlock rifle', 'Percussion shotgun', 'Pinfire revolver' or 'Centrefire self-loading rifle'.

Where:  'France', 'England', 'Great Britain'

When: Put in a suitable date range. Use a negative date for BC. Dates can be narrowed further using the data filters on the search results.


as for firearms (without the ignition system aspect), using relevant terms such as 'gun', 'howitzer', 'mortar' etc. Note that search results for 'gun' will include firearms due to the use of the term by both subjects.

General Search

General search refers to any search conducted through the main search box.

String searching

If you need to search for a particular string then place the query in double quotation marks " ". This ensures that only that particular phrase is returned. E.g.: "Elizabeth I" would return 9 objects, Elizabeth I would return 17 objects. This is because "Elizabeth I" only returns exact matches, whereas 'Elizabeth I' returns results for 'Elizabeth AND I', meaning that 'Elizabeth' and 'I' need only appear on the same page, but not necessarily next to each other as they do in "Elizabeth I".

This is very useful when searching for object numbers. Our object numbers contain a full stop '.', which acts as special operator in the search, to avoid this place the object number in double quotation marks, e.g. "XXVIA.1" will return only objects that contain that object number. XXVIA.1 will return results that contain either XXVIA or 1. There is no need to place object numbers in double quotation marks when using the Advanced Search: Object number search field.

Boolean operators

The familiar Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT (alternatively you can write them as &&, ||, !) are supported and can be entered directly into the search box. NOT takes precedence over AND, which takes precedence over OR and you can combine these operators with brackets. These operators can affect the terms to the left and right of them.

You can also use the preferred Elasticsearch operator '+' (which means the term MUST be present) and '-' (which means the term MUST NOT be present). These operators can only affect the terms to the right of them.

The example below finds all results for "sword" without "japan" in.
sword -japan

By default, any terms you enter in the search box must be present. For instance, all of the searches below are identical:

armour -sword field
+armour -sword field
+armour -sword +field
armour NOT sword AND field
armour !sword &&field

Wildcard operators

Two wildcard operators are available:

* = Match any character, including no character, for example:

flint*lock will find: "flintlock", "flint-lock", "flint lock"

? = Match any single character; will not match no character, for example:

flint?lock will find: "flint-lock"

Please avoid wildcard characters occurring at or before the third position as they may produce too many unrelated matches.

Proximity operators

Proximity operators enable you to specify the distance (in number of words) your search terms are from each other in the text. You can specify the number using a tilde and a number after the term itself. To widen the proximity increase the number.

The example below finds king and queen within 5 words or less of each other. For example:

"king queen"~5 would find: "Queen Victoria, and by King Edward"
"king queen"~1 would find: "King, Queen"

Note that the order the terms are placed in the search does not matter.

Reserved characters

Certain characters function as operators in the system and if you want to use them in your search query, but not as an operator, then you will need to escape them with a leading backslash.

The reserved characters are:

+ - && || ! ( ) { } [ ] ^ " ~ * ? : \ /

Fuzzy searching

Fuzzy searching enables you to search for terms that are similar to, but not exactly like our search terms.

"Fuzziness" is measured in terms of the number of edits (insertions and deletions) between one term and another. You can specify the number of edits using a tilde and a number after the term itself.

For example:

basinet~1 would find the various spellings: "bascinet", "basinet", "bacinet", "bassinet".

The maximum 'fuzziness' supported is 2.


You can group together terms or search clauses together using parentheses. For example:
armour AND ((breast AND tassets) OR (cuirass AND suneate))

Image viewer

Images are loaded to fit the image viewer. Some images can be zoomed into to see details more clearly. The zoom function can be operated by using a mouse or keyboard.

Keyboard controls

Zoom in

"+" key.

Zoom out

"-" key.

Reset image to full view

"r" key.


"arrow" keys.

Download images

  • "d" = Opens the image licence window.
  • "space" = Scroll down image licence window.
  • "enter" = Agree to image licence terms and download image to device.
  • "Esc" = Close image licence window.

Mouse controls

Zoom in

  • Click on image.
  • Click "+" button below image navigator.

Zoom out

Click "-" button below image navigator.

Reset image to full view

Click "reset" button between "+" and "-" buttons to reset.


  • Click and hold to drag image.
  • Click and hold on the green square in the image navigator to drag image.

Download images

  • Click on "Download this image" button above the image navigator - opens the image licence terms window.
  • Click on scroll bar to scroll down to read to end of image licence terms - reveals and activates the "Download" button.
  • Click on "Download" button to agree to image licence terms and save image to device.


  • The green box in the image navigator shows the current selection being viewed, this can be dragged using the mouse to select other parts of the image.
  • Images can only be downloaded if the "Download this image" button is visible above the image navigator.
  • The © (copyright) button at the bottom of the image will reveal the copyright holder of the image being viewed.
  • The "i" (information) button at the bottom of the image will reveal a caption for the image being viewed if one is available.
  • The image navigator will fade out after a few seconds if no actions are sensed on the page. It will reappear once an action is sensed.