Panter, George William (1858–1928), antiquary and bibliophile, was born probably in Dublin, son of Thomas Panter. In 1872 a son was born to Thomas Panter and Ellen Panter (née Digges); Ellen may have been George's mother, or possibly his father's second wife. The family had an ironmongery and interior decoration business in Dublin, and were also gilders to Queen Victoria; they lived at Holybrook Castle, Sandymount, and were presbyterian, though George's brother Charles R. Panter (b. 1850) became an anglican clergyman. George Panter graduated BA at TCD (1880) and MA (1903). As an established antiques collector and dealer, he amassed a large number of artefacts illustrating eighteenth-century social life in Ireland and especially in Dublin. He was elected a member of the RSAI (1916), and soon became a member of the council. In 1918 the shrine of the bell of St Senan, which had been in private hands, was advertised in The Times for sale. Panter bought the shrine for 1,250 guineas and donated it to the RIA; it was the most costly item in the Academy's collection of antiquities, and is preserved in the NMI.
A committee member (January 1920) and president of the Bibliographical Society of Ireland, Panter paid the costs of publishing the Society's papers in 1919. He was elected FRSAI (1922) and MRIA (November 1922). He published as an offprint (1923) a Bibliography of Irish tours. His ‘Eighteenth-century Dublin street-cries’ in the RSAI Journal (1924), reprinted as a pamphlet (1924), contained reproductions of twenty old woodcuts from his unique collection. Each woodcut was accompanied by informative commentary on aspects of eighteenth-century economic and social history. He planned to publish papers on Dublin theatre tickets, insurance company signs, and views of Dublin (it was said that he owned possibly the largest and most valuable collection of Dublin views in private hands), but the monographs were never completed. Panter also had collections of miniature portraits, Irish coins and medals, Volunteer and Yeomanry relics, and Irish silver plate. His collection of silver decanter labels was one of the most important ever amassed, and his library at his home in Foxrock, Co. Dublin, dispersed like his collections at his death, contained many rare books as well as letters of Swift (qv) and Goldsmith (qv). He died suddenly 6 November 1928 at the Midland Hotel, Manchester.
He was married to Katherine Jane and had three sons. Noel Panter was correspondent in Germany for the Daily Telegraph, and was imprisoned in Munich by Hitler's government for a time in 1933; another son was a doctor; and the third, George William Panter junior (d. 1945), was an officer in the Royal Ulster Rifles until 1935. He lost an arm at the Somme in 1916, but served with the RFC 1917–18. He was a unionist MP at Stormont 1938–45, representing Mourne.